|Location||60 km southeast of Maiduguri, Borno, Nigeria|
|Elevation||359 metres (1,178 ft)|
|Forest cover||Western Sudanese savannah|
The Sambisa Forest is a forest in Borno State, northeast Nigeria. It is in the southwestern part of Chad Basin National Park, about 60 kilometres (37 mi) southeast of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State.
The Sambisa forest is located at the northeastern tip of the west Sudanian Savanna and the southern boundary of the Sahel Acacia Savanna about 60 km. south east of Maiduguri the capital of the state of Borno. It occupies parts of the states of Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi along the corridor Darazo, Jigawa, and some parts of Kano state farther north. It is administered by the Local government areas of Nigeria of Askira/Uba in the south, by Damboa in the southwest, and by Konduga and Jere in the west.
The name of the forest comes from the village of Sambisa which is on the border with Gwoza in the East. The Gwoza hills in the East have peaks of 1,300 meters above sea level and form part of the Mandara Mountains range along the Cameroon-Nigeria border. The forest is drained by seasonal streams into the Yedseram and the Ngadda Rivers.
The climate is hot, dry and wet with minimum temperatures of about 21.5 °C between December and February, a maximum of about 48 °C in May and average temperatures of about 28-29 °C. The dry season is from November to May and the wet season is between May and September/October with annual rainfall of about 190 mm.
The Sambisa forest is one of the few forests in North Eastern Nigeria where sparse vegetation is the norm. Most of the vegetation is typical of the Sudanian Savanna although, because of human activity, some parts have become more like the Sahel savanna. The forest consists of a mixture of open woodland and sections of very dense vegetation of short trees about two metres high and thorny bushes, with a height of 1/2-1 metre, which are difficult to penetrate. Major trees and bushes in the forest include tallow, rubber, wild black plum, birch, date palm, mesquite, acacia, monkey bread, red bushwillow, baobab, jackalberry, tamarind and terminalia.
BirdLife International reported that 62 species of birds have been recorded in the Sambisa Game Reserve, including the guinea fowl, francolin, village weaver, Abyssinian ground hornbill, Arabian bustard, Savile's bustard, African collared-dove, chestnut-bellied starling, black scrub-robin and the Sudan golden sparrow. The forest was also thought to be the last remaining site of the ostrich in Nigeria.
17 species of mammals were reported in 2010 in the Sambisa Game Reserve including, baboon, patas monkey, tantalus monkey, Grimm's duiker, red-fronted gazelle, African bush elephant, roan antelope, hartebeest, African leopard and spotted hyenas. However poaching, chopping downing trees for fuel, human agricultural penetration and the Boko Haram jihadist group's activities since 2013 have reduced their numbers since then. An aerial survey of the game reserve in 2006 reported seeing only five large wild animal species.
Sambisa Game Reserve
During the colonial period, the Sambisa game reserve covered an area of 2,258 km2 (872 sq mi) in the eastern part of the forest. Later reports put the size of the game reserve at 518 square kilometers, or 686 square kilometers although some official documents included the Marguba Forest Reserve in the Sambisa Game Reserve.
From 1970, the reserve was used for safaris. It had a large population of leopards, lions, elephants, hyenas, that tourists could observe from cabins or safari lodges. In 1991, the government of the state of Borno incorporated this reserve into the national park of the Chad Basin. But the abandonment of its management, following the Sambisa takeover by Boko Haram insurgents in February 2013, led to the gradual disappearance of animals, lodges collapsed or were destroyed, vegetation invaded roads, and rivers dried up.
Boko Haram conflict
The Sambisa forest, especially the mountainous region of Gwoza near the Cameroon border, is used as shelter by the jihadist Boko Haram group and is believed to be where they keep the hostages from the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping in April 2014.
During spring 2015 the Nigerian Army started an offensive against Boko Haram in the forest, but was slowed down due to finding the forest to be heavily mined and the militants having better local knowledge. Despite this, on 28 April 2015, four Boko Haram camps in the Sambisa forest were overrun by the Nigerian military who freed nearly 300 girls and women, who were not, however, the missing Chibok girls. On 30 April 2015 another 13 Boko Haram camps were destroyed and 234 more women and children were reportedly freed near Kawuri and Konduga.
The Nigerian Army Wednesday night 4 November 2015, said troops of 5 Brigade Task Group, killed two Boko Haram suspects, after destroying their camps at Hausari and Baranga in Marte Local Government Area of Borno State. According to official statement by the military, "In efforts to continually dominate recovered territories and clear all Nigerian territory of Boko Haram vestiges, the advancing troops of 5 Brigade Task Group have today cleared 5 more terrorists camps at Hausari and Baranga in Marte Local Government Area of Borno State."
On 18 May 2016, one of the schoolgirls abducted from Chibok in 2014, was reportedly found by local militia men fighting Boko Haram in the Sambisa forest. It was also reported that 218 of the girls were still missing and that the found girl claimed that except six, said to have died, all of them were still held captive in the forest.
- (2015) factsheet: Sambisa Game Reserve BirdLife International, Important Bird Areas; retrieved 2 May 2015
- Kayode, Bodumin (27 April 2014) "Sambisa: Forest of a thousand myths", thenationonlineng.net; retrieved 29 April 2015.
- Kayode, Bodunrin (29 April 2014). "Inside Nigeria's Sambisa Forest". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
- Mbaya, Y.P. and Malgwi, H. (March 2010) Species list and status of Mammals and Birds in Sambisa game reserve, Borno State, Nigeria Journal of Research in Forestry, Wildlife and Environment, Vol 2, no 1, p. 135
- Omondi, P., et al, (6 July 2006) Total Aerial Count of Elephants and other Wildlife Species in Sambisa Game Reserve in Borno State, Nigeria per MIKE (Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants) Program (cites.org); retrieved 3 April 2015.
- (2015) Sambisa Game Reserve Birdlife International; retrieved 29 April 2015.
- "Sambisa Forest From Nature Conservation to Terrorists Haven". thisdaylive.com. 10 May 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
- Kayode, Bodunrin. "Inside Nigeria's Sambisa forest, the Boko Haram hideout where kidnapped school girls are believed to be held". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 May 2014.
- Okonkwo, Emeka (10 May 2014). "US Marines, Satellite locate missing girls in Sambisa forest". The Herald (Nigeria). Retrieved 11 May 2014.
- "Chibok girls: Kidnapped schoolgirl found in Nigeria". BBC. 18 May 2016. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
- Oladipo, Tomi (24 April 2015) Analysis: Islamic State strengthens ties with Boko Haram, BBC News; retrieved 29 April 2015.
- (29 April 2015) Nigerian army 'rescues nearly 300' from Sambisa Forest, BBC News Africa; retrieved 29 April 2015.
- (2 May 2015) Boko Haram: Nigerian army frees another 234 women and children, BBC News, Africa; retrieved 2 May 2015.
- salisu Idris (November 4, 2015) Troops kill two Boko Haram suspects  today News, (Nigeria); Retrieved 4 November 2015