The soil surrounding Lake Chad is well-drained and at one time had the capability of supporting dense woodlands which included species of kapok and ebony. However, changes in the pattern of land use led to a degradation of the soil and ultimately resulted in open woodlands growing on drier soil. The most common species of vegetation currently found in the Lake Chad region are acacias, baobab, desert date, palms, African myrrh, and Indian jujube. In recent years, annual grasses have begun to dominate because other types of vegetation have turned out to be quite valuable on the trading market which allows more space and nourishment for the grasses. In terms of aquatic plants, the most common species are Papyrus, ambatch, water lilies, and reeds.
Before the turn of the 20th century, those visiting the medieval Kingdom of Kanem reported an abundance of wildlife throughout the Lake Chad region. However, within the past hundred years there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of wildlife still living in the region. The main causes of this decrease are habitat loss, hunting and of course competition from livestock. The majority of the large carnivores, such as lions and leopards and other large animals such as the rhinoceros and hippopotamus have all been reduced or eliminated from the region. Studies have shown that nocturnal animals have hardly been affected by these changes in habitat and that some species, such as the rodent, have even thrived on them.
The migration of birds to Lake Chad each year is phenomenal. There are hundreds of species of birds that migrate to or live in the Lake Chad region. Some of the most abundant terrestrial birds of the region are the ostrich, secretary bird, Nubian bustard, and ground hornbill. There are also many different types of water and shore birds such as the garganey, marabou stork, shoveler, fulvous tree duck, Egyptian good, pink-backed pelican, glossy ibis, and African spoonbill. Many amphibians and reptiles can be found among the others. Crocodiles, rock pythons, and spitting cobras are all quite common in the Lake Chad region. The lake is also known for its excellent fishing resources - there are over 40 species of fish that are caught and sold by local fishermen. Accompanying all of these relatively commonplace animals are some ancient species which are native to the Lake Chad region. Both the lungfish and sailfin are and have been unique to this region for hundreds if not thousands of years.
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