Animals and Plants
Nature in Niger
Niger is largely located in the desert, in the Sahara. The south lies in the still very dry Sahel zone. In such a barren landscape, the flora and fauna are correspondingly barren and not very rich in species. But there are areas in Niger where things look different, for example in the Aïr Mountains or in the fertile south-west.
Which animals live in Niger?
The animal inhabitants of Niger are the desert fox fennec, the striped hyena and the striped jackal. The cheetah also lives here. Gazelles occur in several species, for example the red-fronted gazelle and the dune gazelle, the Dama gazelle is less common. It is considered the national symbol in Niger and is shown on the logo of the national soccer team.
The mendes antelope, which is still found in a small area in Niger, is endangered. The North African ostrich is also endangered. Turtles, lizards, and snakes like the python are reptiles that live in Niger. Baboons, the barbary sheep and the hussar monkey live in the Aïrgebirge. Numerous species of fish live in the Niger River.
Lions, buffalos, elephants and leopards can only be found in the W National Park, which lies across borders in Niger, Burkina Faso and Benin. These animals were hunted to extinction in the rest of the country. Hunting was banned in 1974.
Probably the last population of all of Africa lives on the Niger giraffe in the W National Park. Hippos and antelopes as well as many bird species are also at home in the national park. They include guinea fowl, bustards, vultures, herons, ibises and storks such as the Abdim stork.
Which plants grow in Niger?
In the desert, plants find such poor living conditions that practically nothing grows here. Plants can only sprout briefly after rain. Then, for example, the root thorn, the tangled cyprus grass and the sweet grass Stipagrostis acutiflora grow.
It looks different in the savannah. Grasses and thorn bushes have adapted to the dry savannah. Tamarinds, baobabs, kapok trees and mahogany can also be found where it gets a little more humid towards the south. Several species of acacia are also found, as are indigo plants and Leptodenia pyrotechnica. In the Aïr Mountains you can find wild forms of millet and olives.
The only two orchid species found in Niger, Eulophia cucculata and Eulophia guineensis, grow in the W National Park.
Niger – a poor country
According to themeparktour, Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world. In 2018, it came last in the Human Development Index, which compares the wealth of countries. The reasons for this are enormous population growth, poor education, famine and the desert that covers most of the country and is still expanding.
The agriculturally usable land is threatened enough by this, but also by deforestation (wood is collected as fuel) and excessive use. The soil becomes impoverished (erosion). There are efforts to reverse that. So one has increasingly planted the Anabaum.
41 percent of the country’s income comes from agriculture, 20 percent from industry and 39 percent from services. The economic center is the capital Niamey.
Agriculture in Niger
In the desert, agriculture is only possible in oases. There the fields can be watered. In the oases in Niger, however, the salt trade is more likely to be practiced. Rain agriculture can only be carried out in the strip of the Sahel. However, it only rains here a few months of the year. Millet, peanuts, rice and beans are grown here. On the map you can see the line up to which agriculture can be practiced in Niger.
Agriculture is done without machines. The farmers use hoes to work the land. Only a few richer farmers own an ox plow. What people grow on their mostly small piece of land, they need to survive. They eat it themselves or sell their wares in the market. Cattle (camels, sheep, goats and cattle), cowpeas and onions are sold in neighboring countries.
In the desert: salt caravans and traveling pasture farming
Tuareg trade in salt in the desert. A salt caravan route runs between Agadez am Aïrgebige and the Fachi and Bilma oases to the east. The Tuareg ride camels through the desert. They bring mainly millet, but also goats into the oases and receive salt and dates in return. From here the caravan moves further south, partly to Nigeria, where they sell salt and dates – for money and millet.
The Tubu people live in the northeast of Niger. The Tubu operate hiking pastures. They drive sheep and goats south in the rainy season so that they can graze there and sell goods to the places along their route during their migration. The Wodaabe, who belong to the Fulbe people, live as cattle nomads. They move north from the south-east.
Mineral resources: uranium and petroleum
The mining of uranium brings in 70 percent of Niger’s revenue from exports, i.e. all goods that are sold abroad. The uranium ore is mined in Niger by a French company owned by the French state. Uranium is needed in nuclear power plants. However, with global demand for uranium falling, this industry does not have the best prospects for Niger either.
Other natural resources in Niger are gold, phosphates, coal and iron. There is also oil occurrence. The search for oil began in the 1970s and has only been extracted since 2011, in the south-east of the country. A pipeline (line) transports the oil to the refinery in Zinder, where, for example, gasoline and diesel are produced from it.
In addition to the mining of uranium, gold and oil, there are also smaller branches of industry. Cement, bricks, soap and textiles are manufactured.