Regions and landscapes
With 1.27 million km² Niger is almost four times the size of the Federal Republic of Germany (357,000 km²). With a population of over 24 million people, this corresponds to 19 people / km² (1961: 3 people / km²) – an upward trend (229 people / km² in Germany).
The landscape of Niger is largely characterized by desert (approx. 60%) and desert-like areas with grass cover and thorn bushes and acacias (approx. 30%). The southern part of the country on the border with Nigeria and the southwest lie in the Sudan zone and, due to the higher rainfall, also have denser forest stretches. There are mountains, seen from a topographic point of view, only in the Air Mountains north of Agadez, the landscape is interspersed with island mountains; the majority of the state territory is at an altitude of 300 to 500 m.
The north is characterized by sand and stone deserts, some of which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. The country profile shows larger elevations with the Air Mountains (Mont Bagzane 2022 m) and the Djado plateau (a good 500 m and individual elevations up to 1000 m), which leads to the Tibesti Mountains. The desert areas of the ‘Grand Erg de Bilma’ adjoin the Ténéré sand desert in the east; smaller mountain ranges and island mountains rise from the expanse of the desert and semi-desert or the grassy plains of the pastoral and agro-pastoral zones.
In some places the old basement base comes to the surface and the granite weathered to form giant spheres; so in the area of Zinder and in the western part of the country on the Niger River.
Lake Chad, a formerly large body of water, forms the border in the southeast. It is severely affected by dehydration, including significant water abstraction from the tributaries and climate change. The lake area decreased from over 25,000 square kilometers (before 1973) to 2,000 square kilometers in 2014. This is due to the, it is said on the website of the Lake Chad Basin Commission. At the Lake Chad Conference, which took place in Rimini at the beginning of April 2014, the participants showed agreement on the need for intervention to save this form of landscape; the Nigerian part of Lake Chad is on the list of UNESCO proposals for a World Heritage Site.
Flora and fauna
The north of the country only has tree and shrub vegetation along the seasonally water-filled wadis, many of which are acacia. In the oases of the deserts and the air, there are extensive cultivated gardens in addition to dum and date palms. In the higher regions of the Air Mountains, wild olive trees, figs and cypresses can still be found from earlier humid climates. The pastoral zone is dominated by extensive grass stands interspersed with various types of acacia and calotropis.
According to areacodesexplorer, the Mangaland in the southeast of Niger in the area of Lake Chad shows savanna vegetation. The abundance of flora in the south of Niger is determined by mahogany, kapok and baobab trees. Dense bus areas cover the southwest and the region of the capital Niamey. Baobabs, the alleged character trees of the Sahel, are only found in large numbers in the southern parts of the country, unfortunately they are almost completely absent in the north.
The wildlife of Niger is seriously endangered as there are hardly any effective protective measures. In the northern regions live gazelles, addax, but also ostriches. According to the list of endangered animal species, the Addax antelopes are among the particularly endangered wild animal species in Niger, Dama and dune gazelle are still on the red list, as is the wild dog. There were Desert cheetahs discovered in the Niger Termit Desert. An area of approx. 100,000 km² in the Termit massif and the Tin Toumma desert was designated as a national nature and cultural reserve by the Nigerien state in March 2012 and is therefore the largest African reserve. This reserve is one of three reserves in Niger that are established with the help of the Sahara Conservation Fund was launched and is supported by other organizations such as the Zoological Society. The big problem in the future will be that oil resources are dormant under the area. The Addax antelopes, of which 200 animals were spotted in 2007, may have retreated further. After the arrival of the Chinese oil company in 2013, 28 animals were still recorded, in 2017 only 6 were sighted.
The Niger River is populated by hippos, especially in the Ayourou region (upstream of the Niger towards the Malian border). East of Niamey, in the Kouré area, there is a giraffe reserve, which is a major tourist attraction. This giraffe population is growing thanks to the protection and awareness raising of the population. Compared to 50 animals in 1996, the number increased to over 300 in 2012. Individual herds of monkeys can also be found in the grazing zone northeast of Abalak, but mostly only in the form of footsteps.
Aspects of biodiversity are of little importance in the sparsely populated Niger, but in 2001 the government issued a hunting ban for lions and giraffes. The W National Park, 150 km southeast of Niamey, is another world natural heritage site in Niger. The park is a joint facility with the states of Benin and Burkina Faso. The course of the Niger River describes a “W” here, giving the park its name. As the only still intact ecosystem in Niger, it is home to a typical savanna fauna with over 70 diurnal mammals. Many wild animals can still be seen here in the wild – unique for the West African region. In addition to elephants, buffalo, cheetah and lions live here.