Old Oyo National Park: Attractions, History and Location
Old Oyo National Park, the park which was named after the Old Oyo – the political capital of the Oyo Empire between the 16th and 18th centuries, spans a remarkable 2,512 sq km (970 sq mi), most of which fall in Oyo State, some extends to Kwara State. The park, which is made up of two previous native administrative forest reserves – the Upper Ogun (1936) and Oyo-lle (1941) Forest Reserves, are unique ecosystem and historical relics converted to game reserves in 1952 and finally upgraded to the present status of a National Park.
Situated just about 51 km north of Ibadan city, and it harbours Nile crocodile, rock python and land tortoise. The top attractions of the park which are of historical and archaeological value, are situated at the northern end of the park and these include the relics of the old city walls of Oyo Ile, the great Agbaku cave which has evidence of stone age, the “kosomonu” hill, the old Akesan Market, Alaafin’s Palaces with crucibles of pottery used some centuries ago.
The rest of the park is a wild life park covering many hectares of land and a camp site for tourists. Wild life encountered includes elephant, buffalo, antelope and baboons. Visitors can also check out the wildlife museum at Akoto base camp or try the lake cruising on Ikere Gorge Lake, mountaineering, sport fishing etc.
The park has total land mass of 2,512km2 and is located in southwestern part of Nigeria at latitude 8° 15’ and 9° 00’N and longitude 3° 35’ and 4° 42’E. The location has inevitably placed the park at a vantage position of abundance land area as well as diverse wildlife and cultural/historical settings. The administrative office is located in Oyo Isokun area along Oyo-lseyin road, where necessary information and booking could be made. The landscaping and organized space within the large yard has made the facility very endearing to the public.
The drainage system is also interesting as the park is well drained by rivers Ogun, Owu, Owe and their tributaries in the central and southern parts, while river Tessi drains the northeastern part of the park.
Fauna are found more abundantly in the southern part of the park which includes lion, western kob, roan antelope, western hartebeest, Grimm’s duiker, oribi, crested porcupine, anubis baboon, patas monkey, tantalus monkey, buffalo, red river hog, gaboon viper, spotted hyena, nile crocodile, rock python, land tortoise, waterbuck, bushbuck, warthog, guinea fowl, hammer kop, African fish eagle, bush fowl, Senegal parrot, grey heron, grey hornbill, white-headed plover, yellow mantled whydah etc.
There are more than 30 bird species recorded in the park. Some of the well known ones are Guinea Fowl, Hammer Kops, White headed Plover, African fish eagle (Cucumber vociferous), Yellow mantled Whydah (Euplectes spp), Bush fowl (Francolinus bicalcaratus), Senegal Fire-finch (Lagonostica senegalus), Grey Hornbill (Tockus nasitus) Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) Bannerman’s Weaver (Ploceus bannermani) crossley’s Ground. Thrush (Zoothera crossleyi).