Making Forest Reserves in Bornu - Northern Nigeria - 1956

by R. G. Lowe

Friday 9th March 1956 at Mulgwe

We rose at 6 o'clock and at 7 o'clock the village area head and the village head arrived with the village councillors and others. Jock M., Zana L. and myself sat on deckchairs and the two village heads sat on a mat facing us, with everyone else seated around them on the ground, forming a semicircle. Near Zana L. sat Jibrin, the Boundary Labourer, proudly wearing his three medals; Africa Star, Burma Star and War Medal. Ali Borno, Departmental Messenger and ex-sergeant, recognised him as having been in his own platoon. The people spoke neither Hausa nor English, but only Kanuri, so Zana L. interpreted for us.

Bornu Forest Reserve
Collecting Water
Zana L. is a large jolly fellow, perhaps in his fifties, and is the Native Authority (N.A.) councillor responsible for forestry. He is completely self-taught, and has learned to read, write and speak fluent English. He started his career as timekeeper to a labour gang when Mr Macdonald, the present [in 1956] Chief Conservator of Forests, was Provincial Forest Officer in Borno. On a previous occasion, for the benefit of Jock and myself he had mimicked, firstly an Alkali (traditional magistrate) arriving at his court, and ending with the words, "Bring me my dash!"; then a pedestrian crossing a busy London street dodging the traffic (he had himself visited England in Easter 1955); and lastly the Shehu, the traditional ruler of Borno and now an ancient man in his eighties and virtually blind. Jock M., is a tall lean man in his early thirties, with black hair and a strong Scottish accent, and is the Provincial Forest Officer (P.F.O.). He has a forestry degree from a Scottish University, and was decorated with the George Medal during his military service in Palestine.

Jock M. opened the meeting by asking the villagers if they knew what a Forest Reserve was for. When they answered "No", he asked them if they had a reserve of corn. They replied that they kept a reserve sufficient for 4 or 5 years. He asked how long it took to grow a crop of corn, and they said 4 months. Then he asked how long a tree took to grow, to which they replied 25 or 30 years. He picked a young man and an old man from the audience, and asked the old man what the land was like when he was the same age as the young man, and received the reply "It was all bush". The P.F.O. drew their attention to the large area of existing farmland, and pointed out that 10 years previously a man farmed 1 acre to feed his family, but now farms 6 acres and sells the groundnuts. He tells them that it has been estimated that in another 10 years the farmed area will be 6 times as great again. He asks the old man: "How far did your mother walk to collect firewood?". The old man looks surprised but replies that she collected it just behind the house. The young man is asked how far his wife walks to collect firewood, and he replies, "One or two miles." Indicating a small boy who has joined the audience, the P.F.O. asks "How far will his wife have to walk to collect firewood?". What will they do when their women have to walk a long way to collect firewood? They reply that they will move the village. He points out that when the child of the young man has grown up, and the village and all the surrounding villages have increased their farmlands, there will be no bush remaining at all. There is murmuring in the audience. They understand. He explains how the reserve will be divided between the four major villages, a quarter being the responsibility of each village head. This quarter will be subdivided into 25 parts and one part cut each year. Thus, when the last part has been cut, the initial part will be 25 years old and ready to be cut again; and in this way, they will have firewood and poles for building their houses in perpetuity. He tells them that when the wood outside the reserve is exhausted they must come to the Forestry Office and ask for their portion to be marked out for felling.

The P.F.O. then asks the villagers what continuing rights they want in the reserve, and whether they have any questions. They ask if they can grow rice in the swampy parts, but he replies "No; if the reserve is to be for forestry, it must be kept for forestry work, or it will not be a forest reserve -- can a man have his corn and eat it?". They ask if they can take the bark of kuka (baobab) for rope and danya (ebony) trunks for bowls and corn mortars. A man asks if he can cut hoe handles if he sees a crooked branch. The P.F.O. replies that as to kuka and hoe handles, although he cannot give permission, "What the eye does not perceive the heart does not grieve over". They laugh. Their minds skip from topic to topic, bringing up a new subject before the previous one is properly settled; but like a good chairman he guides them from one point to another. They ask about leaves and fruits -- they add leaves to their soups. The P.F.O. wonders if they have any cattle, but they say they are too poor and keep only sheep and goats. The P.F.O. chuckles and says to the Village Head: "You are half Fulani, do you mean to say that you have no cows? I do not care how many cows you have, I am not here to collect Jangali (cattle tax)". They admit it ruefully; and he tells them that they are allowed to graze their cattle in the reserve and also to cut grass for thatching houses and making mats. They can collect honey and put up hives, but when they smoke out the bees they should take care not to set fire to the surrounding bush, or there will be trouble because the Patrol Guard (Boundary labourer) is the policeman of the bush. A man stands up and says that he has firm evidence that the fires are due to nomadic Fulani and Shuwa Arabs. The P.F.O. replies that he has equally firm evidence that when the man burned his farm last year it spread into the surrounding bush! Everyone laughs and the man sits down nonplussed.

The P.F.O. assures the villagers that the reserve belongs not to him, not to Zana L., not to the Shehu nor to the Government, but to the N.A. and thus to the people who elect the N.A. councillors, which includes members of this village. Is a forest reserve such a bad thing after all? They do not demur. The Government is not stealing the land - they agree. We all stand up, and they disperse? and then we have breakfast.

Saturday 10th March

Early in the morning I rode on horseback along the six miles of cut line which marks off the farmlands from the reserve. The horse began to trot, and my stirrups being too long -- amongst other things! -- I was nearly shaken off. Henceforth, I kept the horse at a very sedate pace, but was alarmed when it stumbled into holes. One's instinct is to jerk the reins which causes the horse to rear because the (native) bit has a cruel spike which pricks into the palate of the horse's mouth.

After setting out at 5 a.m. we returned about 8 a.m., and then set off in the Landrover via the other cut line. Jock M. was trained in assault driving during the War. He roars along the cut lines or footpaths at 20 miles an hour, with thorn branches lashing us through the open sidewindows, dodging tree stumps, termite mounds, fallen logs etc., as though the bats of hell were after us. We crossed a fadamma (seasonal swamp) which had set like concrete and cracked into a jigsaw of separate clods, across which the vehicle heaves and bumps and bangs. When we reached Mulgwe it was clear that we were the first white men and the first motor vehicle that they had ever seen. Everyone crowded round, and Jock chased the women and children round the market tooting the horn which they thought a great joke. The children are very curious, but they usually run away when you approach them, especially little girls, and also women. As we go on, the fadamma becomes lumpier and great holes appear into which the wheels crash. The trees grow closer together and we negotiate a dried river bed but soon have to turn back to Gombole for fear of damaging the vehicle.

Sunday 11th March at Gombole

Bornu Forest Reserve
Fishing at Wuda Taye Tapki
Today we rode 14 miles on horseback round the cut lines, to ensure that they are properly cleared and demarcated -- am I sore! Two and a half miles from Gombole we had to cross a deep river, 50 yards across and 5 feet deep. The horses were led across, and although I was all but stripped to enter, Jock M. insisted I cross on the Lawan's horse -- a huge black animal. Two men held the head and another the tail so that he could not roll me in. I had removed my boots, and gripping the mane I plunged across, and just missed a wetting by half an inch. Zana L. advanced dignifiedly into the water on foot, modestly raising his gown as the water rose up his nether portions, and progressively lowered it again as the level of the water subsided, until he eventually emerged dry clad at the other bank. There is a lot of water in Borno (despite the relatively arid climate), and we passed Gombole tapki, a huge lake in the rainy season, dried to a few disconnected pools in the dry season. In these, fish abound and fishermen ccme from as far away as Kano to catch, dry and smoke the fish, which are exported all over northern Nigeria. The fishermen live in temporary huts on the edges of the lake. We had a meeting of the village heads and council. Trouble is brewing up over fishing rights, as outsiders have virtually stolen the fishing -- some consistently over 20 years. They are also worried by weaver birds which can consume up to 40 percent of their grain crops.

Gombole Reserve Map
Gombole Reserve Map
A rumfa (shed) had been built for us at Gombole, carriers headloading our impedimenta 7 miles by the footpath. In the evening we went shooting and were poled across the river in a dugout canoe. There were innumerable small fry in the water. However, what the villagers had described as agwagwan ruwa (ducks) turned out to be huge white and black storks (shamuwa, Abdim's stork). Although we saw a reed buck, we returned empty handed, and then tried our luck in the bush. Jock had his .22 rifle and I borrowed Zana L.'s 12- bore double-barrel. With three shots I killed two makwarwa (francolin) which are exactly like partridge running in the grass and scrub. I could hear Jock popping away with his rifle. When he came back he claimed he had killed two guinea fowl, but said he couldn't find them. In the dried mud we saw huge footprints of elephants, circles about 18 inches across. We also saw crown birds, marabou storks, ducks, teal and geese on the tapki.

Monday 12th March

We rode on horseback 16 miles along the cut lines to Lawanti, just south east of Balga, and returned a further 12 miles via the footpath from Lawanti to Gombole. On the way back we had to descend into the river which separates Nigeria from Cameroon. Jock saw a duiker and went after it with his rifle, and killed it, so we have plenty of meat. As elsewhere, the people have knocked down most of our beacons; these consist of a stake set in a mound of earth, and help to mark the boundaries. They think the land is being taken by the Bature (White men) to hunt in! However, when we explain the real purpose of the reserve they clap their hands exclaiming, "Mun gode, mun gode" (We thank, we thank).

When I dismounted, I was only fit to collapse onto a deckchair. All my joints ached, for we had set off at 5 a.m. and were not back until 1.30 p.m. Jock said "my eyes had sunk into my head! However, after a protracted drink and a meal, followed by a postprandial rest, I felt sufficiently recovered to shoot another francolin, which we ate for dinner, followed by tinned apricots to celebrate my birthday.

Wednesday 14th March at Samaga

At 7 o'clock in the morning we left Gombole and rode to Mulgwe with the servants and carriers ahead on foot — a distance of about seven and a half miles. We had to ford two rivers, and in the second I had to bend my legs parallel with the water to keep my feet dry. Just as we reached Mulgwe my horse, an old and quiet stallion (mares are scarcely used for riding and geldings are rare), being nearly asleep in the heat, stumbled and fell to his knees. I was also in a stupor, but was so surprised that I did not come off!

This evening we had a meeting with the Lawan, the Bulama and council, and others in Mulgwe, and Jock went through the routine. Later, Zana L. told us that when the villagers heard his wireless, they swore that Jock and myself were hiding inside the box and speaking out of it. He was clearly disgusted by their ignorance. At the end of the meeting an old man protested that he had been pressed into service as a carrier by the Lawan (village area head), but he was not strong enough. Jokes help to win people over, and Jock told him that he wouldn't be so weak if he went less often with his wife! Shrieks of laughter. The man replied that he only did it twice a day. More laughter. Jock exclaimed in mock horror and concern. The man expostulated: "But I have seven wives!!".

Monday 27th March at Azaya

Wuda Taye Reserve Map
Wuda Taye Forest Reserve
I was up at 5 a.m. and breakfasted by the light of a bush lamp (hurricane lamp). The boy had managed quite a good breakfast of meat roll prepared the night before, fried tomato, onions and potatoes. His cooking efforts are carried out on a 'bush stove' which consists of a grid of expanded iron resting across two square kerosene cans laid on their sides, with the fire between them. The lids have been removed, but when they are replaced the cans may serve as moderate ovens; or a third one placed on top of the grid, over the fire, may form a hot oven. The variety of heats is very useful for cooking, merely by putting the food item in different places — although without care it can be burned on one side and raw on the other! Whereas an English housewife will say "You are quarter of an hour late, the dinner's ruined", an African cook can keep it edible for up to 2 hours — and often has to!

After having gone two miles, I changed horses as they had provided me with a horse which was deadly slow. Mostly we go at a walk, as this tires the horses least and is also safest over rough ground across which, if permitted, a horse may go at a speed which risks breaking its neck - or yours! They must also be guided away from bad patches, which they do not necessarily avoid of their own accord. The fadamma (swamps) have dried out and the ground surface is deeply cracked, and before it quite dried may have been pounded into even worse shape by the hooves of passing cattle.

I suffer a cold sweat whenever my horse stumbles in case it puts its foot into a crater and falls, breaking a fetlock; or worse still falls on me in the process. Although the horses are unshod, even if I fell clear I should stand a good chance of being cut by flailing hooves. At Gombole the Wakili was thrown while coming to join us, and his cheek had a huge cut three inches long, gouged to the bone. We treated the wound, and covered it with Elastoplast, and it seems to be healing all right. The ground is like iron and if the horse fell on one there would be small chance of escaping without broken bones. The horses respond to the neck rein and are sometimes trained to move with an absolutely smooth motion, rather like sitting on a conveyor belt, in which I believe the legs are swung forwards together on the same side.

At 8.45 a.m. we reached Jimla, where I had to investigate a claim for fallow land within the reserve. The Bulama (Village Head) was a real character (reminding me of some old country poacher) in a long blue riga (gown) and fula (cap), with grey beard and hair. He appeared to be predominantly Fulani, and was talkative with a loud voice. I couldn't help liking him, but had to judge against him. This reserve isn't much wanted, and when I cut some off in order to shorten a cut line, where the boundary projected near some rice fields, they thanked me. Nevertheless, although the exercise is for their benefit, I cannot force them to agree if they do not wish to accept a forest reserve. In the case of the Inquiry I have magisterial powers; but this village is small and shrinking. The particular piece has been unfarmed for more than ten years and there is plenty of other land available in the vicinity. The Wakili (representative of the District Head) swore that it had been unfarmed for at least 30 years. At Jimla I drank water, which I carry in two bottles, each inserted into an old sock which is wetted so that evaporation in the dry air keeps the bottle cool.

Saturday 14th April

This morning I rode the 3 miles to Tirshe and supervised cutting the line there. Towards the end enthusiasm was lacking, and I tried giving a hand. Normally, before one has completed three strokes, the matchet will be firmly wrested from one's grasp, and someone else will carry on with the task. Anger only flusters them, and Mallam Talla begged me not to drive them, but to allow than to continue in their own way, when they will continue to work from dawn to dusk. They do not distinguish work from play. A group of men will accidentally fell a tree on others, and roar with laughter as these try to extricate themselves from the thorns. They heave tottering trees over, and shout in exultation at the rending crash. They are told by the District Head to assist with the work, but although we pay each man 2 shillings per day this is little incentive, as in bush there is nothing to spend the money on — except perhaps to pay the annual capitation tax.

Bornu Forest Reserve
Shuwa Arab Camp
Acacia trees are common and are the source of Gum Arabic, for which there is an important commercial market in Borno. The gum is collected from the bush, but there is often considerable adulteration with other gums which may discredit and damage the market. 'Kolkol' is obtained from Acacia verek (= A. Senegal) (dakwara) and is nowadays the Gum Arabic of commerce. It is a clear light lemon yellow gum in comparatively small tears with a shining surface, which are not easily broken and give a conchoidal fracture; at the first tapping the gum is fairly soft, but hardens with successive tappings as the water content falls; the tears usually have only one point of attachment and develop a white weathered crust if they remain on the tree for more than one year. 'Golawai' is from Acacia campylacantha (= A. polyacantha) (kumbar shafo or farchen shafo); it is a cloudy caramel colour with a dull surface; the tears of gum usually have more than one point of attachment and may be quite large, up to 4 inches diameter, and easily hammer to fragments without conchoidal fracture. This gum is also useful for confectionary. 'Karamga' is from Acacia seyal (dushe) and is comparatively clear with the colour of red wine. 'Kindil' is deep red and comes from Acacia tortilis (= A. raddiana) but is more crystalline than Karamga. 'Kangar', from Acacia arabica (= A. nilotica) (bagaruwa or gabaruwa), is a reddish colour and perhaps the original source of Gum Arabic. There is also 'Segubu' from Sterculia tomentosa (kukuki), in another family of trees (Sterculiaceae) the gum forming greenish-white icicles, resembling candle wax or talcum, and a source of Gum Tragacanth of commerce. 'Azasagai' is a reddish gum from Lannea acida (faru) (Anacardiaceae) but this tree is mostly in Sokoto and rare in Borno.

I have had to give up wearing canvas hockey boots as the long needlelike acacia thorns penetrate into the rubber soles. One day a long thorn went through and skewered the ball of my toe, so that I could not remove my foot from the shoe until one of the labourers extracted the thorn with his teeth! I now wear leather soles. Today, as we worked, I had to pull a thorn out of Judy's ear. It was half an inch broad at the base and half an inch deep, hooked like a bramble thorn, and was so deeply embedded that it took two tugs to get it out. Judy allowed me to do it quite calmly, with no display of pain, and licked my knee affectionately afterwards. She also lets me take thorns out of her pads. Sally (the other dog) is not such a good patient, and to get a tick out of her eyelid, I had to grip her body between my knees, and clamp her head across one knee with my other hand. Despite her struggles she seemed grateful afterwards. I expect it is rather like going to the dentist. As we worked, a herd of cows and sheep passed a hundred yards distant stirring up the dust, with a camel stalking after than through the bush, its head and neck undulating from side to side, dwarfing the trees, beasts and men, like some prehistoric monster.

After 10 a.m. it begins to get very hot and sweat trickles from my forehead and upper lip, and runs in a steady stream down my forearms. But the climate being very dry, the danger is of getting chilled rather than too hot, as a change of position exposes a new area of damp clothing or wet skin to rapidly cooling breezes. In the afternoons the flies are terrible, settling by dozens on my arms and legs. They rarely bite, and one becomes inured to their presence. They seen impervious to insecticidal spray and I now carry a large feather fan from place to place, mainly to keep flies at bay. Fortunately the pestering by flies during the day is compensated by the lack of insects at night. In the evening I sit outside my little mud hut writing by the light of my Tilley pressure lamp, dressed in pyjamas and mosquito boots, in full view at the centre of the village. I expect they think I am more respectably dressed than when in my daytime attire of sports shirt and shorts. It is difficult to hear myself think. From 50 yards away comes the shrilling of a pipe, the syncopated rattle of gourds, and a man's voice chanting the refrain which is taken up by the audience. In the flickering light of a small fire the performers circle round: the piper first, skipping, twirling and bobbing, followed by three men shuffling and skipping and shaking the gourds. This is to celebrate the beginning of Ramadan. Much of the ballad-making is impromptu, although new and old themes may mingle — the Alkali wanting his dash, the fine house the Maji (N.A. Treasurer) has built for himself, and perhaps including myself too.

My alarm clock has been giving trouble recently, a result I think of the dust from the hazo (harmattan wind). I removed the works and swilled them in kerosene, since when it has run satisfactorily.

Monday 16 April

I am ensconced in the middle of a Shuwa Arab camp. Like other nearby camps, this is a circle of perhaps 30 or 40 grass huts, each about 8 yards in diameter, and the circle 100 yards across. The huts are in groups of two or three, and the whole circle is surrounded by a shinge (fence) of cut thorn branches from the acacias. Some houses have low trees outside, with horses tethered in their shade. At night the cows, sheep and donkeys are driven into the centre of the circle to protect them from thieves. Some of the houses have a sort of porch — a frame on which a mat is placed to receive lung fish caught in the nearby tapki, for drying in the sun — besides giving shade outside the house. I ate a lungfish for lunch, but it mostly tasted of the oil in which it had been cooked. The Sheik (the village head) had dashed this to me, and it had a cheesy flavour, having been made by boiling milk down to a clear oil.

The tapki is a muddy pond about 1 or 2 acres in extent. Banks of earth have been raised about two feet above the water level, partitioning off areas about 30 feet square. Some of these have thorns disposed along the tops of the walls, which are about 7 or 8 feet deep. As the water level falls, more water is added from the tapki and the mud allowed to settle out. Water is drawn from it for drinking and for watering the cattle. Even after settling, the water is dense with sediment, and after filtering gives a clear bright yellow fluid the colour of urine. One regards the phalanxes of cattle, and there is little consolation in the thought! It has a bitter taste, which I try to modify when I drink it by adding lemon squash. Little wonder that I am suffering from a very fluid yellow diarrhoea. It astonishes me that the local inhabitants, who drink the water neat, do not find their alimentary tracts silting up!

For fishing there are similar banked up ponds. When the water is baled out the fish become concentrated in the bottom. The water is thrown out through a wicker sieve to catch the smaller fish. When it is an inch or two deep, men and boys clad only in loin cloths, splashed from head to foot in mud, beat the water with sticks, and lift out the stunned fish. Even in the open water the fish seethe, and boys wade in the mud stabbing apparently at random with spears. I saw three kinds of fish: lung fish which may be up to 2 feet long, smaller ones like perch, and others only about 2 inches long and spotted like a Dalmatian dog. The fish are dried in the sun, each coiled in a circle with its tail in its mouth, curing in its own fat. (See Note 2). Then I saw Judy, who is half spaniel, swimming thoughtfully in one of the filthiest pools. She emerged disgustingly muddy, but very pleased with herself. Sally, who is half boxer, dislikes water but runs after the horses when we are out riding, whereas Judy takes good care to remain in camp! If she is forced to follow us, such as when we move camp, she runs in sporadic bursts from patch of shade to the next.

My own bath water is also muddy, so that I am never quite sure whether I am cleaner before or after bathing. As a precaution before immersing, I dose the water in my camp bath with sufficient Dettol. Except for the diarrhoea and a sore throat and nose bleeding every other day due to the dry air, I feel well.

Friday 27th April at Kosheye

Trekking through the bush, I have been intrigued to notice small pits dug in the soil. These were explained when I saw one of the labourers carrying a string of fish, and I discovered that the holes are made by people digging for fish. I was shown how the presence of a fish in the ground is betrayed by a small hole in the surface like a mousehole; the burrow is dug out until the fish is revealed about 5 inches down. They are lung fish (Dipnoi) and during the wet season this area is 6 inches to 2 feet deep in water. As the land dries out the fish bury themselves in the mud to hibernate during the 8 months dry season.

Friday 11th May at Nguru

At Nguru I had to ride round the boundaries of the Communal Forest Area (C.F.A.), measuring 11 square miles, which we are converting to a Forest Reserve. Besides making the area safer from a legal point of view, this also means that the N.A. receives annually a Government gratuity of 1 pound per square mile, which is paid on all reserved land. I had to ride round the boundaries to inspect them. The Galadima, head of Nguru District, provided me with a horse saddled with a European hunting saddle, whereas normally I have to use a native saddle with high parmels fore and aft between which one is wedged. There were also European stirrups, in place of the shovel-shaped native stirrups which also serve as spurs. It was a powerful chestnut stallion of about 16 hands, an unusually large horse hereabouts, and turned out to be a good walker. However I was sore after trotting the first 4 miles, due to its uncomfortable gait, and didn't look forward to completing 13 miles. I noticed that it kept trying to close up on the horse in front. It got its head over the hindquarters of the other horse about four times despite my tugging on the reins. It finally ignored the bit, although I exerted all my strength, and reared high over the other horse with its front hooves thrashing above its head. Somehow I heaved it clear and it fell to its knees? I shot forward in the saddle and would have fallen except that my arms went either side the horse's neck. My head, being placed centrally, came into violent contact with the horse's spine, so that my jaw felt half dislocated and my nose bled slightly. I got someone to lead the horse to quieten it but we hadn't gone 200 yards before it reared above the boy, striking at him with its hooves. I wrenched it back, thumping it with my hand for I had no whip. This was the last straw, and I made the District Head's Wakili change mounts with me. I suspect the horse was taking advantage of being fitted with a European bit, in place of the brutal native bit. The Wakili's horse was grand, a fast and smooth walker, trotting with little up and down movement, so that posting was unneccessary. Nigerian horsemen do not rise to the trot, but sit relaxed in the saddle. We caught two men cutting wood for corn pestles, and the whole party galloped between the trees to catch them, and we confiscated their axes and half finished pestles. Neither had permits to cut wood for sale; these cost 2 shillings for 3 months, and provide revenue for the Native Authority. They will be summoned before the Alkali (Moslem magistrate). When I went to make arrangements for the Inquiry meeting with the D.O. (District Officer — the Government political officer), he seemed more concerned whether the horse was injured than whether I had nearly broken my neck.


A FOREST RESERVE is brought into legal existence by a Government Order published in the Government Gazette. This contains two schedules.

The FIRST SCHEDULE describes the boundaries in detail, e.g. for Wuda Taye F.R.: "Starting from a point on the left hand side of the 1956 path from Kosheye to Labe Kanuribe distant 2345 feet eastwards along it from beacon No.5 of Bomu Native Authority No.29 Azaya Forest Reserve ... and marked by an earth mound No.1, by a straight line cut on a bearing of 292£ degrees for a distance of 1 mile 3,720 feet to an earth mound No.2; thence by a straight line cut on a bearing of 307 degrees for a distance of 1,795 feet to an earth mound No.3; thence by the right hand side of the 1956 path from labe Kanuribe to Kosheye in a general south-westerly direction for a distance of 7 miles 4,068 feet to the starting point."

The SECOND SCHEDULE describes the rights admitted in the reserve, and the named communities to whom they are admitted, for example:-

1. Rights of Way: To the general public:- The portion within the reserve of:-
The 1956 Kosheye - Labe Kanuribe path? and the 1956 paths from Kosheye, Labe Shuwabe, Labe Kanuribe, Tirshe Lawan Alibe, Tirshe Shiddebe, Tabla, Dumga, Yabel, Mbuta and Karkur to the Wuda Ttiye Tabki.

2. Other Rights: Subject to all other restrictions lawfully imposed or to be imposed by a competent authority:

A. To the native members of the communities of Kosheye, Labe Shuwabe, Labe Kanuribe, Tirshe Lawan Alibe, Tirshe Shiddebe, Tabla, Dumge, Masu, Yabel, Mbuta and Karkur -
(i) The right to draw water;
(ii) The right to take in quantities sufficient only for the personal domestic requirements of the right holders but not for sale or barter -
(a) Grass for thatching, mat making and fodder,
(b) Wild honey,
(c) Gum from Karamga (Acacia seyal) and Golawai (Acacia campylacantha) , and provided there is no interference with other vegetation
(d) from uncultivated trees and plants, the fruits of Chingo (Balanites aegyptiaca) known as Betto, Burgum (Diospyros mespiliformis) , Dadin (Ximenia americana) , Damsa (Capparis corymbosa), Kangar (Acacia avabica) , Kumkum (Courbonia sp.), Kurna (Ziziphus spinachvisti) , Kusulu (Ziziphus mauritiana), Malaria (Sclerocarya birrea), Ngubultu (Hibiscus esculentus), Nguzo (Celtis integvifolia) , Bultu (Boscia senegalensis) kncwn as Taoila, Tamsugu (Tamarindus indica) and Zaji (Capparis tomentosd), the leaves of Chingo (Balanites aegyptiaca) known as Dabara, Dugdoge (Momordica balsamina) , Karasu (Hibiscus aspev), Gamzaino (Corchorus olitovius) , Ngudoshe, Nguzo (Celtis integvifolia) , Mambwi and Tabsa (Cassia tora), the tubers of Darribi (Nymphaea lotus), Arjigo and Ngura (Stylochiton warneckii) and the wild cereals Kasha (Digitaria exilis) and Shangawa (Oryza barthii)

B. To those native members, recognised by native law and custom as entitled to hold it, of the communities of Kosheye, Labe Shuwabfe, Masu, Labe Kanuribe, Tirshe Lawan Alibe Tirshe Shiddebe, Tabla, Dumga, Yabel, Mbuta and Karkur -
(i) The right to hunt,
(ii) The right to fish.

(Extracts from Northern Region Legal Notice 29 of 1957. Bornu Native Authority No.32 Wuda Taye Forest Reserve Order, 1957. Date of Commencement: 14th February 1957.)

The rights admitted were normally those already being practised by the local communities over the area being reserved. Fees might still be payable to the Native Authority (Local Government) , e.g. an annual fishing tax of 10 shillings. People sometimes agreed to reservation because they saw it as a legal means to protect their bush from commercial exploitation by strangers. Since then, State Governments have virtually arrogated ownership (or at least management) of Forest Reserves from local communities to themselves. The Federal Land Use Decree of 1978 is regarded as giving legal justification — although it contains no specific provision for forestry. There is now a tendency towards looting of reserves for whatever they contain of value, with or without the consent of government. The local people may join in the destruction by removing what they can, before others do it for them.

British Colony Map
1955 Map of North-Eastern Nigeria
Colony Profiles
Also by the Author
Trekking in Northern Nigeria, 1959