In the Niger Delta, the largest freshwater wetland and aquatic ecosystem in Africa, there is a lowland, a swamp-forest of marshes and mangroves called the Apoi Creek Forest Reserve. Located in the west central part of the delta, in the greater municipality of Apoi-Oloidiama in Bayelsa State, and administered by the state’s Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the reserve covers an area of 292km. Its dense forest is home to species of birds, fish, and ground animals.
The regular flooding and drying of the delta area where the reserve is located accounts for its boom of plant life. Chief among these are several mangrove mini-forests, populated by raphia palm, vascular plants, and such tree species as the rhizophora, the irvingiacea, the xylopia staudtii, the cercestis afzelii, the uapaca palaudosa, the pterocarpus soyauxii, and the hallea ledermannii, all of which are rare in the country. Further into the hinterland, the mangrove segues into the tropical rainforest. The flooding further creates little swamps, lagoons, and lakes.
The tropical, humid climate of the reserve allows for the flourishing of a diverse fauna. They include cape buffaloes, African stag piglets, white-bellied pangolins, black-headed duikers, chimpanzees, royal pythons, manatees, and species of monkeys—the monkey cat, the great white-nosed monkey, the red colobus monkey, the Sclater’s guenon, the collar indication, the green colobus, and the rotbauchmeerkatzen. Birds include African gray parrots, black kites, hammerheads, and hard arboreal ducks. Along the rivers, there are Nile crocodiles, and in the waters, the fish species include cichlids, pike, and epiplatys.
In 2008, the Ramsar Convention designated the Apoi Creek Forest Reserve a wetland of international importance.
Otosirieze Obi-Young is Editor of Folio Nigeria, where he profiles innovators and facilitators in culture: art, business, entertainment, activism, health, food. He is a writer, journalist, curator, media consultant, former academic, and Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Open Country Mag, a new online platform covering African literature. In 2019, he received the inaugural The Future Awards Africa Prize for Literature. In 2020, he was named among "The 100 Most Influential Young Nigerians" by Avance Media. Find him on otosirieze.com or on Twitter & Insta: @otosirieze.