Flagship Species

The Iroko tree

Picture of Iroko Milicia excelsa with IITA Forest Reserve in the background

Iroko Milicia excelsa with IITA Forest Reserve in the background

One tree that stands out above all others in the IITA Ibadan campus is the iroko Milicia excelsa. There are large solitary trees in the fields, on the Golf Course, near residential and administrative buildings, and even in the hotel car park. They were left standing when the original forest was cut down because the Yoruba people regarded them as sacred. Now they are among the last in Nigeria and on the IUCN Red List status as NT (Near Threatened).

Iroko is a forest giant, reaching 50m in height, 10m in circumference and often not branching for the first 20m.

It is valued for timber and as an icon of traditional beliefs. In parts of Nigeria, people believe that an iroko was the first tree that God showed to human beings…


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The ‘P.g. plant’

Picture of the ‘P.g. plant’ Pararistolochia goldieana

Open wide – the ‘P.g. plant’ Pararistolochia goldieana

Many interesting plants were found in the 19th century by missionaries who went to areas that few Europeans had ever visited before. One such find, made in 1888 by the Reverend Hugh Goldie was Africa’s largest flower, which we refer to as the ‘P.g. plant’ on account of its unpronounceable scientific name, Pararistolochia goldieana.


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The Ibadan Malimbe

Picture of badan malimbe Malimbus ibadanensis in IITA Forest Reserve (Photo: A.P. Leventis)

Ibadan malimbe Malimbus ibadanensis in IITA Forest Reserve (Photo: A.P. Leventis)

Destruction and fragmentation of habitats pose a significant threat to many bird species in Nigeria. Those with restricted ranges are especially vulnerable. As the name suggests, the Ibadan Malimbe Malimbus ibadanensis occurs only in and around Ibadan. This member of the weaver family is one of only four endemic birds in Nigeria and the only one to depend on the forest. It is assessed as EN (Endangered) on the IUCN Red List due to its small area of distribution, loss of habitat, and declining population.


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The Tree Pangolin

Picture of rescued pangolin before release into IITA forest

Rescued pangolin before release into IITA forest

Pangolins are extraordinary animals in habits and appearance. Though they look like ant-eaters and armadillos their closest relatives are carnivores, such as cats, dogs and bears. They feed on ants and termites by means of a sticky tongue which is as long as the entire body. It is estimated that one pangolin consumes 70 million a year. Their underparts are hairy but the rest of the body is covered with tough, overlapping scales. When alarmed they roll into a tight ball which may protect against predators but not hunters. There are only eight species in the world – four in Asia and four in Africa – and all are endangered through loss of habitat, hunting for bush meat, and demand for their scales which, though made of keratin – the same substance as our hair and nails – are believed in Asia to have medicinal properties.


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