Omo Forest Reserve is located in Ogun State, about 135km north-east of Lagos, 20km from the coast. It lies within a tropical lowland rainforest and it has the most complex and productive vegetation type in the country because it supports about 8000 species of plants.
The large forestland is named after the Omo tree, which is indigenous to the area. The Omo river lies somewhere within the 132,000 hectares of land, which make up the forest reserve. It has a mixed moist vegetation The average annual rainfall of the reserve is over 2,000mm. The forest is largely mature, with pockets of primary forests along river courses.
The reserve has about 460-hectare forest block, to the south of the confluence of the Omo River, which has its tributary in the Owena River. This block is constituted of a ‘virgin’ forest declared a Strict Nature Reserve (SNA) and a Biosphere Reserve by the government.
The Omo Forest Reserve houses over 200 types of tree, 125 species of bird and several mammals, including many endangered species such as chimpanzees, elephants and white-throated guenon monkeys. This makes it not only an area of outstanding natural beauty, but also an area of great conservation importance.
The forest's biodiversity is threatened by poaching, logging and uncontrolled farming. In order to support efforts to conserve the forest, the local community is being educated about the importance of conservation.
To get the best view of the reserve visitors climb Beetle Hill. Organised trips include a 45 minute drive to the hill's base, or a two and a half hour walk, and a 25 minute climb to the top. Trips usually include a picnic lunch, so don't worry about bringing your own food and weighing down your backpack.
The reserve has an elephant camp where guests can watch the beautiful elephants, nature trails, stay in clean but basic cabins or tents and enjoy an evening campfire and BBQ.
The Nigerian Forest Elephant Group (NFEG) was established in 1989 in order to protect the 1300 km² Omo Forest Reserve and work towards its long-term conservation. Paignton Zoo Environmental Park began supporting the NFEG in 1993 and has been involved with the programme ever since, although management of the programme was officially handed over to the Nigerian Conservation Foundation in 2006.
With logging, poaching and uncontrolled farming threatening the biodiversity in the Omo Forest Reserve, the conservation goal of the project is to ensure the survival of the Omo Forest ecosystem by education in schools and raising conservation awareness amongst the local community.