FEATURED BIODIVERSITY

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Tree pangolin (Manis tricuspis)

Pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, are reclusive nocturnal mammals that roll up into a ball when threatened. They are rarely seen in the wild, and are very hard to raise in captivity.

Rescued Tree pangolin before release into the IITA Forest
Reserve 2016. Photo: D. Bown.

Facts about pangolins

  • There are 8 species in the world, four in Africa and four in Asia.
  • Pangolins close their nostrils and ears to keep insects out.
  • Pangolins carry their young ones on their back and tail.
  • A pangolin can consume 20 million ants a year.
  • Pangolins mark their territory with their feces and urine. They are certainly one of the most trafficked mammals in Asia and Africa due to the high demand for their scales in China and Vietnam.

Woodland Kingfisher (Halcyon senegalensis)

This medium-sized bird is about 22 cm long. Although the sexes cannot be distinguished by the colors of their feathers, all adults have a bright blue back with black patches on the wing panel and tail. Its head, neck and underparts are grey-white, with red on the upper mandible and black on the lower mandible. Their feet are dark-grey in color; their flights are rapid and direct. The Woodland kingfisher feeds on insects and small reptiles. This beautiful bird builds its nest in tree hollows in woodlands and gardens, where it makes single sharp initial notes (songs) followed by hard descending trills, which attracts the attention of households throughout the day!

Woodland kingfisher sings on a leafless tree near the Forest School, 2 March 2018. Photo: O. Olubodun.

African silkworm (Anaphe venata)

The larva of the African silkworm is a good source of food for peasant farmers in rural areas of Nigeria. Studies indicate that this larva is of high nutritional value as it contains crude proteins, which are higher than found in other insects and mammals such as crickets, termites, palm weevil, sheep, and pigs. Six essential amino acids necessary for humans are contained in the larvae of the African silkworm. It has been proposed that the African silkworm be used to supplement meals deficient in protein.

Apart from its nutritional values, the African silkworm also produces a cocoon, where it encases itself as it feeds on leaves of the Obeche tree (Triplochiton scleroxylon). In Yorubaland, this cocoon is harvested to produce a cloth called “sanyan”, which is used in traditional ceremonies. Presently, the African silkworm is facing severe threats from deforestation and unsustainable logging, which endangers the Obeche Tree.

 

Hog plum (Spondias mombin)

Hog plum, locally known as iyeye in Yorubaland, is a juicy fruit that is found in Western Africa. It is difficult to propagate this species. Therefore, natural regeneration is mainly enhanced by dispersal.

Hog plum fruiting near the IITA main reservoir, 17 July 2018. Photo: O. Olubodun.

Nutritional benefits of Hog plum

  • Hog plums are rich in dietary fiber, key in maintaining a healthy digestive system.
  • It is a good source of minerals such as iron.
  • It contains a good quantity of vitamin C, which is important for maintaining and repairing bones and teeth.
  • The juice of the fruit is said to have a cooling effect that normalizes and controls high body temperatures and heart conditions.

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