Niger is a landlocked country in West Africa named after the Niger River. Niger is bordered by Libya to the northeast, Chad to the east, Nigeria to the south, Benin and Burkina Faso to the southwest, Mali to the west, and Algeria to the northwest. Niger covers a land area of almost 1,270,000 km2, making it the second-largest landlocked country in West Africa, after Chad. Over 80% of its land area lies in the Sahara Desert.
The territory of Niger contains five terrestrial ecoregions: Sahelian Acacia savanna, West Sudanian savanna, Lake Chad flooded savanna, South Saharan steppe and woodlands, and West Saharan montane xeric woodlands.
The north of Niger is covered by large deserts and semi deserts. The typical mammal fauna consists of addax antelopes, scimitar-horned oryx, gazelles, and in the mountains, Barbary sheep. One of the largest reserves of the world, the Aïr and Ténéré National Nature Reserve, was founded in the northern parts of the Niger to protect these rare species.
The southern parts of Niger are naturally dominated savannahs. The W National Park, situated in the bordering area to Burkina Faso and Benin, belongs to one of the most important areas for wildlife in Western Africa, which is called the WAP Complex. It has the most important population of the rare West African lion and one of the last populations of the Northwest African cheetah.
Other wildlife includes elephants, buffaloes, roan antelopes, kob antelopes and warthogs. The West African giraffe is currently not found in the W National Park, but further north in Niger, where it has its last relict population.
Environmental issues in Niger include destructive farming practices as a result of population pressure. Illegal hunting, bush fires in some areas and human encroachment upon the flood plains of the Niger River for paddy cultivation are environmental issues. Dams constructed on the Niger River in the neighboring countries of Mali and Guinea and also within Niger itself are also cited as a reason for a reduction of water flow in the Niger River—which has a direct effect upon the environment. A lack of adequate staff to guard wildlife in the parks and reserves is another factor cited for loss of wildlife.
Farmer-managed natural regeneration is practiced since 1983 to increase food and timber production, and resilience to climate extremes.