Al-Qaeda Linked Jihadists Have Crossed The Border From Benin Into Northeastern Nigeria

Nigeria’s Kainji Lake National Park, one of the country’s largest parks bordering Benin, has become the unexpected battleground in the growing jihadist insurgency in Africa’s Sahel region. Park rangers have reported an influx of jihadi fighters believed to be linked to al-Qaeda, sparking fears for the safety of park visitors and staff, and the future of the park’s already dwindling wildlife population.

The militants’ incursion into Kainji Lake National Park is a worrying sign of the expanding influence of jihadist groups in the Sahel. The Sahel, a semi-arid region stretching across the south of the Sahara Desert, has become a breeding ground for extremist organizations in recent years. The militants’ presence in the park, previously a haven for nature enthusiasts and wildlife conservation efforts, raises serious concerns about the future of both.

Kainji Lake National Park, established in 197 Kainji, is a vital refuge for a variety of wildlife species, including one of West Africa’s last remaining lion populations. Conservationists have long been concerned about the park’s dwindling lion numbers, attributing the decline to poaching and habitat loss. The arrival of jihadi fighters in the park adds a new layer of threat to the park’s already precarious wildlife populations.

Residents near the park have reported that it has been closed to visitors for more than a year due to security concerns. The militants’ presence further complicates efforts to reopen the park and revive tourism, a crucial source of income for local communities.

The Nigerian government is yet to comment on the reported presence of jihadi fighters in Kainji Lake National Park.

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