Zoo team to visit Nigerian national park

13th Mar 2013

A team of wildlife experts from the UK are ready for a ground-breaking trip to Africa to assess what species are living in a vast national park in Nigeria.

It is a landmark trip as the group from Chester Zoo will be the first to carry out a biodiversity assessment in the Gashaka Gumti National Park.

The region - a treasure trove of biodiversity - is believed to be home to the last viable population of the endangered Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti).

Chester Zoo director general Mark Pilgrim said there is "a good chance that there are a lot of things there that we currently do not know about".

He said however it is tricky to determine how likely they are to stumble across "a big, sexy bug or frog" but the team is clearly eager to find out.

The national park is situated on Nigeria's border with Cameroon in the east of the country.

Dr Pilgrim revealed that Chester Zoo has been funding the core support facilities at a research field camp at the park for more than 10 years but the field trip signals the start of more direct involvement.

"The field camp was mainly set up to look at and protect the Nigerian chimpanzee, which is a sub-population of chimpanzee," he said.

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