Sambisa Forest

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Sambisa Forest
Locator Map Maiduguri-Nigeria.png
Location of Maiduguri in Borno State
Location60 km southeast of Maiduguri, Borno, Nigeria
Coordinates 11°15′00″N13°25′00″E / 11.25°N 13.4167°E / 11.25; 13.4167 Coordinates: 11°15′00″N13°25′00″E / 11.25°N 13.4167°E / 11.25; 13.4167 [1]
Elevation359 metres (1,178 ft)
Forest coverWestern Sudanese savannah

The Sambisa Forest is a forest in Borno State, northeast Nigeria. It is in the southwestern part of Chad Basin National Park, about 60 kilometres (37 mi) southeast of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State.

Borno State State in Nigeria

Borno, also known as Borno State, is a state in north-eastern Nigeria. Its capital is Maiduguri. The state was formed in 1976 from the split of the North-Eastern State. Until 1991 it contained what is now Yobe State. It is the homeland of the Kanuri people in Nigeria.

Nigeria Federal republic in West Africa

The Federal Republic of Nigeria, commonly referred to as Nigeria, is a federal republic in West Africa, bordering Niger in the north, Chad in the northeast, Cameroon in the east, and Benin in the west. Its coast in the south is located on the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. The federation comprises 36 states and 1 Federal Capital Territory, where the capital, Abuja is located. Nigeria is officially a democratic secular country.

Chad Basin National Park national park in Nigeria

The Chad Basin National Park is a national park in northeastern Nigeria, in the Chad Basin, with a total area of about 2,258 km2. The park is fragmented, with three sectors. The Chingurmi-Duguma sector is in Borno State, in a Sudanian Savanna ecological zone. The Bade-Nguru Wetlands and Bulatura sectors are in Yobe State in the Sahel ecological zone.



The Sambisa forest is located at the northeastern tip of the west Sudanian Savanna and the southern boundary of the Sahel Acacia Savanna about 60 km. south east of Maiduguri the capital of the state of Borno. [2] It occupies parts of the states of Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi along the corridor Darazo, Jigawa, and some parts of Kano state farther north. [2] [3] It is administered by the Local government areas of Nigeria of Askira/Uba in the south, by Damboa in the southwest, and by Konduga and Jere in the west. [2]

Sudanian Savanna

The Sudanian Savanna is a broad belt of tropical savanna that runs east and west across the African continent, from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the western lowlands in the east. The Sahel, a belt of drier grasslands and acacia savannas, lies to the north, between the Sudanian Savanna and the Sahara Desert. To the south the forest-savanna mosaic is a transition zone between the Sudanian Savanna and the Guinean moist forests and Congolian forests that lie nearer the equator.

Sahel transition zone in Africa

The Sahel is the ecoclimatic and biogeographic zone of transition in Africa between the Sahara to the north and the Sudanian Savanna to the south. Having a semi-arid climate, it stretches across the south-central latitudes of Northern Africa between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea. The name is derived from the Arabic word sāḥil meaning "coast" or "shore" in a figurative sense, while the name in Swahili means "coastal [dweller]" in a literal sense.

Maiduguri Place in Borno, Nigeria

Maiduguri, also called Yerwa by locals, is the capital and the largest city of Borno State in north-eastern Nigeria. The city sits along the seasonal Ngadda River which disappears into the Firki swamps in the areas around Lake Chad. Maiduguri was founded in 1907 as a military outpost by the British and has since grown rapidly with a population exceeding a million by 2007.

The name of the forest comes from the village of Sambisa which is on the border with Gwoza in the East. The Gwoza hills in the East have peaks of 1,300 meters above sea level and form part of the Mandara Mountains range along the Cameroon-Nigeria border. [3] The forest is drained by seasonal streams into the Yedseram and the Ngadda Rivers. [4] [5]

Mandara Mountains mountain range in Nigeria and Cameroon

The Mandara Mountains are a volcanic range extending about 190 km along the northern part of the Cameroon-Nigeria border, from the Benue River in the south to the north-west of Maroua in the north. The highest elevation is the summit of Mount Oupay, at 1,494 m (4,900 ft) above sea level.

Ngadda River river in Nigeria

The Ngadda River is a river in Nigeria that flows into Lake Chad and the Chad Basin. The Alau dam built on the river has interfered with fertile seasonal floodplains in the region of Maiduguri.


The climate is hot, dry and wet with minimum temperatures of about 21.5 °C between December and February, a maximum of about 48 °C in May and average temperatures of about 28-29 °C. The dry season is from November to May and the wet season is between May and September/October with annual rainfall of about 190 mm. [4] [5]


The Sambisa forest is one of the few forests in North Eastern Nigeria where sparse vegetation is the norm. Most of the vegetation is typical of the Sudanian Savanna although, because of human activity, some parts have become more like the Sahel savanna. The forest consists of a mixture of open woodland and sections of very dense vegetation of short trees about two metres high and thorny bushes, with a height of 1/2-1 metre, which are difficult to penetrate. [3] Major trees and bushes in the forest include tallow, rubber, wild black plum, birch, date palm, mesquite, acacia, monkey bread, red bushwillow, baobab, jackalberry, tamarind and terminalia. [6]

<i>Detarium microcarpum</i> species of plant

Detarium microcarpum, commonly known as sweet detar, sweet dattock or tallow tree, is an underutilized species of tree legume that grows naturally in the drier regions of West and Central Africa. It has a wide range of uses due to its medicinal properties, edible fruit and hardwood, which is used as fuel. This makes it valuable and appreciated by local communities, but further research and effort are needed for its domestication.

<i>Vitex</i> genus of plants

Vitex is a genus of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae. It has about 250 species. Common names include "chaste tree" or "chastetree", traditionally referring to V. agnus-castus but often applied to other species as well.

Date palm palm tree cultivated for its edible sweet fruit

Phoenix dactylifera, commonly known as date or date palm, is a flowering plant species in the palm family, Arecaceae, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit. Although its exact place of origin is uncertain because of long cultivation, it probably originated from the Fertile Crescent region straddling between Egypt and Mesopotamia. The species is widely cultivated across Northern Africa, the Middle East, The Horn of Africa and South Asia, and is naturalized in many tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. P. dactylifera is the type species of genus Phoenix, which contains 12–19 species of wild date palms, and is the major source of commercial production.


BirdLife International reported that 62 species of birds have been recorded in the Sambisa Game Reserve, [6] including the guinea fowl, francolin, village weaver, Abyssinian ground hornbill, Arabian bustard, Savile's bustard, African collared-dove, chestnut-bellied starling, black scrub-robin and the Sudan golden sparrow. The forest was also thought to be the last remaining site of the ostrich in Nigeria. [6]

BirdLife International is a global partnership of conservation organisations that strives to conserve birds, their habitats, and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources. It is the world's largest partnership of conservation organisations, with over 120 partner organisations.

Francolin informal group of birds

Francolins are birds that traditionally have been placed in the genus Francolinus, but now commonly are divided into multiple genera, although some of the major taxonomic listing sources have yet to divide them. The francolins' closest relatives are the junglefowl, long-billed partridge, Alectoris and Coturnix. Together this monophyletic group may warrant family status as the Gallusinidae or in a sub-family Gallusininae. The pheasant Phasianinae and partridge Perdicinae families of the "Order of Phasianidae" have been established as paraphyletic.

Village weaver species of bird

The village weaver , also known as the spotted-backed weaver or black-headed weaver, is a species of bird in the family Ploceidae found in much of sub-Saharan Africa. It has also been introduced to Hispaniola, Mauritius and Réunion.

17 species of mammals were reported in 2010 in the Sambisa Game Reserve [4] including, baboon, patas monkey, tantalus monkey, Grimm's duiker, red-fronted gazelle, African bush elephant, roan antelope, hartebeest, African leopard and spotted hyenas. However poaching, chopping downing trees for fuel, human agricultural penetration [4] and the Boko Haram jihadist group's activities since 2013 [3] have reduced their numbers since then. [7] An aerial survey of the game reserve in 2006 reported seeing only five large wild animal species. [5]

Sambisa Game Reserve

During the colonial period, the Sambisa game reserve covered an area of 2,258 km2 (872 sq mi) in the eastern part of the forest. [7] Later reports put the size of the game reserve at 518 square kilometers, [4] or 686 square kilometers [6] although some official documents included the Marguba Forest Reserve in the Sambisa Game Reserve. [5]

From 1970, the reserve was used for safaris. It had a large population of leopards, lions, elephants, hyenas, that tourists could observe from cabins or safari lodges. In 1991, the government of the state of Borno incorporated this reserve into the national park of the Chad Basin. But the abandonment of its management, following the Sambisa takeover by Boko Haram insurgents in February 2013, led to the gradual disappearance of animals, lodges collapsed or were destroyed, vegetation invaded roads, and rivers dried up. [7]

Boko Haram conflict

The Sambisa forest, especially the mountainous region of Gwoza near the Cameroon border, is used as shelter by the jihadist Boko Haram group and is believed to be where they keep the hostages from the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping in April 2014. [7] [8] [9] [10]

During spring 2015 the Nigerian Army started an offensive against Boko Haram in the forest, but was slowed down due to finding the forest to be heavily mined and the militants having better local knowledge. [11] Despite this, on 28 April 2015, four Boko Haram camps in the Sambisa forest were overrun by the Nigerian military who freed nearly 300 girls and women, [12] who were not, however, the missing Chibok girls. On 30 April 2015 another 13 Boko Haram camps were destroyed and 234 more women and children were reportedly freed near Kawuri and Konduga. [13]

The Nigerian Army Wednesday night 4 November 2015, said troops of 5 Brigade Task Group, killed two Boko Haram suspects, after destroying their camps at Hausari and Baranga in Marte Local Government Area of Borno State. According to official statement by the military, "In efforts to continually dominate recovered territories and clear all Nigerian territory of Boko Haram vestiges, the advancing troops of 5 Brigade Task Group have today cleared 5 more terrorists camps at Hausari and Baranga in Marte Local Government Area of Borno State." [14]

On 18 May 2016, one of the schoolgirls abducted from Chibok in 2014, was reportedly found by local militia men fighting Boko Haram in the Sambisa forest. It was also reported that 218 of the girls were still missing and that the found girl claimed that except six, said to have died, all of them were still held captive in the forest. [10]

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The following lists events from 2014 in Nigeria.

2015 West African offensive

Starting in late January 2015, a coalition of West African troops launched an offensive against the Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria.

On February 19, 2018, 5:30pm, one hundred and ten (110) schoolgirls aged 11–19 years old were kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorist group from the Government Girls' Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, located in Bulabulin, Yunusari Local Government area of Yobe State, in the northeast part of Nigeria. The Federal Government of Nigeria has deployed the Nigerian Airforce and other security agencies to search for the missing schoolgirls and to hopefully enable their return. The governor of Yobe State, Ibrahim Gaidam blamed the Nigerian soldiers for having removed a military checkpoint from the town. Dapchi lies approximately 275 km northwest of Chibok, where over 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014.

Chibok ambush

The Chibok ambush was an attack of Boko Haram insurgents against a Nigerian Army convoy in the night from 13 to 14 May 2014, as the latter was searching for schoolgirls who had been kidnapped by the Islamist rebels. Even though the Nigerian Army forces managed to extricate themselves from the ambush, the attack seriously affected the morale of the involved soldiers who felt that their leadership was carelessly sacrificing them in the war against the insurgents. As result, elements of the Nigerian Army's 7th Division subsequently mutinied at Maiduguri and almost killed their own commander, "humiliat[ing] the Nigerian military".

Asabe Vilita Bashir is a Nigerian politician. She was elected to the Nigerian House of Representatives as a candidate of the ruling party APC in the federal constituency of Gwoza, Chibok and Damboa Borno State. She particularly advocates for women and children specially victims of Boko Haram insurgency.


  1. (2015) factsheet: Sambisa Game Reserve BirdLife International, Important Bird Areas; retrieved 2 May 2015
  2. 1 2 3 Kayode, Bodumin (27 April 2014) "Sambisa: Forest of a thousand myths",; retrieved 29 April 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Kayode, Bodunrin (29 April 2014). "Inside Nigeria's Sambisa Forest". The Guardian . Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Mbaya, Y.P. and Malgwi, H. (March 2010) Species list and status of Mammals and Birds in Sambisa game reserve, Borno State, Nigeria Journal of Research in Forestry, Wildlife and Environment, Vol 2, no 1, p. 135
  5. 1 2 3 4 Omondi, P., et al, (6 July 2006) Total Aerial Count of Elephants and other Wildlife Species in Sambisa Game Reserve in Borno State, Nigeria per MIKE (Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants) Program (; retrieved 3 April 2015.
  6. 1 2 3 4 (2015) Sambisa Game Reserve Birdlife International; retrieved 29 April 2015.
  7. 1 2 3 4 "Sambisa Forest From Nature Conservation to Terrorists Haven". 10 May 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  8. Kayode, Bodunrin. "Inside Nigeria's Sambisa forest, the Boko Haram hideout where kidnapped school girls are believed to be held". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 May 2014.
  9. Okonkwo, Emeka (10 May 2014). "US Marines, Satellite locate missing girls in Sambisa forest". The Herald (Nigeria). Retrieved 11 May 2014.
  10. 1 2 "Chibok girls: Kidnapped schoolgirl found in Nigeria". BBC. 18 May 2016. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  11. Oladipo, Tomi (24 April 2015) Analysis: Islamic State strengthens ties with Boko Haram, BBC News; retrieved 29 April 2015.
  12. (29 April 2015) Nigerian army 'rescues nearly 300' from Sambisa Forest, BBC News Africa; retrieved 29 April 2015.
  13. (2 May 2015) Boko Haram: Nigerian army frees another 234 women and children, BBC News, Africa; retrieved 2 May 2015.
  14. salisu Idris (November 4, 2015) Troops kill two Boko Haram suspects today News, (Nigeria); Retrieved 4 November 2015