As a RAMSAR Site, first of its kind in Nigeria, Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands (HNW) located in Jigawa and Yobe State, and as a wetlands' complex of immense interest to bird-watchers, the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) led many to conduct Winter Bird Census between 10th and 16th February, 2020. 

HNW complex is of international significance to Palaearctic and Afro tropical migratory water birds, with counts of about 423,166 individual birds from 68 species recorded. Birds population in the wetlands usually fluctuate at each seasonal count.


The Wetlands have long been known as a centre of fish production. Upstream hydrological developments driven by irrigation projects threaten to degrade this important resource. Studies of flood plain fisheries have shown that fish production is closely related to flood extent. The existing and planned dams upstream of the HNW are likely to have a serious impact on fisheries. 


The ornithological importance of the HNW at both national and international levels is well known. Current efforts at conserving the avifauna of the wetlands started with the establishment of the HNW Conservation Project in 1987, as a joint international initiative to promote sustainable use of this hydric ecosystem in the otherwise semi-arid zone of north-eastern Nigeria. Since its inception, the project which comes in phases has its major goal of maintaining the natural resources and function of the wetlands. 


Bird monitoring and the annual dry season (northern winter) waterbirds surveys remain one of the most publicized bird conservation efforts of the conservation project. However, the recognition of the vital and central role of water in maintaining the ecological health of the wetlands has prompted the project to evolve a new strategy of establishing Site Support Groups (SSGs) in all the project target sites. These local communities are engaged in communal Typha clearance activities as well as regular meetings of NCF Promoter’s Committee and the wetlands’ water stakeholders to resolve periodic water use conflicts, channel blockage, water-shortage/distribution and other environmental problems` The Federal Ministry of Environment though, attempted to use a weed harvester machine to address the Typha invasion of the wetlands, which needs to be sustained for better results. 


While addressing the participants, a lecturer from the Federal University of Dutse, Dr Sulaiman  Inuwa said, “Uncontrolled hunting of birds and habitat loss remain pressing problems throughout the wetlands, to address this, therefore, the conservation project has made efforts to curb these problems through the ongoing Birds Species conservation and Tree planting/habitat regeneration programme as well as sensitizing students and the local communities through awareness campaigns and harnessing the efforts of concerned relevant local CSOs and government Institutions”. 


Meanwhile, Mr. Harry Hanson, NCF Project Officer who led the team said, “The conservation project is still consulting relevant stakeholders regarding sustainable control of crop damage by avian pests in the wetlands.” 


Other participants are Mr.  Paul A. Tersoo and Mr Abubakar Ringim from the Federal University of Dutse; Mr Ibrahim Mohammed Hadejia, Alh. Hassan Hassan from Jigawa State Ministry of Environment, Mr Abacha; Mr Sani from the Chad Basin National Park (Wetlands sector); Mr. Bala Bala from Nguru Local Government, and Mr. Samaila Mohammed Alkali from Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Kano among others.






The Federal Ministry of the Environment and Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) commemorated World Wetlands Day (WWD) on Tuesday, February 2, 2021 through a webinar.


The theme for this year’s event was “Wetlands and Water” and it reflected on challenges and solutions surrounding the conservation of wetlands in Nigeria. WWD is an annual global event used to highlight the need to protect wetlands and their biodiversities. Estimates show that wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests. 


In his keynote address, Dr. Muhammad Mahmood Abubakar, Honourable Minister of the Environment said that the functions and importance of wetlands cannot be overemphasized. He said: “Wetlands contribute immensely to tackling climate change challenges by enhancing the adaptation and resilience capacity of the ecosystems, provide nature-based climate solutions and address socio-economic challenges such as  water pollution, erosion, food security, human health and disaster risk management by restoring water catchments.” 


He observed that the resources attributed to the wetlands in Nigeria are highly valuable as they contain a variety of reptiles, mammals, amphibians and bird’s species. 


“Unfortunately, these rich ecosystems are being threatened and lost at an alarming rate due to population pressure; poverty; deforestation; intensive cultivation; oil and gas exploration, industrial waste pollution; coastal and marine erosion; overgrazing as well as climate change. we must all recognize the need for urgent intervention.” He added.


Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano, Director General of NCF in his presentation titled “Inseparable: water, wetlands and life” identified some basic environmental importance of wetlands as capturing and storing rainwater; replenishing ground water aquifers; regulating water quantity and supply by releasing water at the right time to the right place in the right amounts; improving water quality by removing and absorbing pollutants.


He said “Wetlands sustain life and keep us healthy. Healthy watersheds provide natural, safe drinking water and support food production. Wetlands give us much of the fish we eat and is used in cultivating rice for 3.5 billion people globally. Wetlands are important for biodiversity as 40% of the world’s species live in wetlands, with 200 new fish species discovered in freshwater wetlands annually.”


He proposed interventions such as awareness creation, habitat restoration, and livelihood improvement as part of solutions to stop further degradation of wetlands and help in their restoration. 


In his remark, Mr. Sean Melbourne, Head of Climate Change & Energy West Africa, British High Commission said that wetlands provide some ecosystem services such as water regulation, flood control, water filtration and freshwater supply.


He revealed “If rainforests are the lungs of the planet, then wetlands are the kidneys. Wetlands teem with biodiversity, providing homes and hunting grounds for several species and livelihoods for millions of people. They are part of our natural infrastructure, providing essential protection against environmental issues like drought and pollution.”


In her closing remark, Chief Sharon Ikeazor said that the Niger-Delta is the largest wetland in Africa and the 3rd largest mangrove forest in the world. She believed that commemoration such as this will raise a voice for the restoration of wetlands, especially in our country


Nigeria has 11 wetlands of international importance (Ramsar Sites). The total area is about 1,076,728 hectares.


These sites include: Lake Chad wetlands in Borno State; Dagona Sanctuary Lake, Yobe State; Hadejia-Nguru Lake, Jigawa & Yobe States; Maladumba Lake, Bauchi State; Baturiya wetland, Jigawa; Foge Islands, Kebbi State; Apoi Creek Forests, Bayelsa State; Padam & Wase Lakes, Plateau State, Upper Orashi Forests, Rivers State; Oguta Lake, Imo State and Lower Kaduna-Middle Niger Floodplain, Niger State.


Wetlands are a critical part of our natural environment. They protect our shores from wave action, reduce the impacts of floods, absorb pollutants and improve water quality. They provide habitat for animals and plants and many contain a wide diversity of life, supporting plants and animals that are found nowhere else.