Though most large game animals such as elephants have been hunted to extinction a long time
ago hippos can be found in the protected area of the
National Park. The country has a diverse bird population which is
unusual for its size. Over 560 species of
birds have been recorded in
this tiny West African state. The mammals which are most often seen
are baboons and monkeys. The species of monkey to be found are the
western red colobus, patas and the callithrix.
There are also small
antelopes such as the Maxwell's duiker, sitatunga and bushbucks.
the animals to be found in Gambia include aardvarks, hyena, Nile crocodiles, warthogs, bushpigs,
monitor lizards, chameleons, geckos,
puff adders, spitting cobras and green mambas.
Bottle nose dolphins
can be seen near the entrance to the river from the Atlantic Ocean.
The biodiversity of Gambian animals forms an important
component of the country’s biological assets from both economic and
ecological points. Recent field studies of wildlife species
species of mammals, 30 species of amphibians and 47 species of
reptiles making a total of 194 species of wild animals in Gambia. Over
five hundred and fifty species of birds have been recorded as of 2006.
There are 6 wildlife Protected Areas (WPAs), occupying a total land
area of 3.5% or 37,772 of the total land area of The Gambia. Wetlands,
which include marine, inland waters, coastal, seasonal fresh water
ponds, mangroves and marsh areas are distributed countrywide and make
up around 20% of the total land area.
Bao Bolong wetland reserve,
the biggest protected area and the first Ramsar site measures
approximately 22,000 ha.
The elephant, which used to be the country’s national emblem, was last
spotted and shot back in 1913. The record trophy of the Giant Eland
was shot in 1903.
The buffoon kob which used to be a common species in The Gambia has
long since become extinct, together with other species like the backed
duiker, lion, red river hog, korrigum and the topi. The West African
Manatee and the Sitatunga are in danger of extinction.
There are 117 species of mammals, 30 species of amphibians and 47 species of reptiles making a total of 194 species of wild animals
in The Gambia. However, these figures are mainly estimates and the
numbers might be higher if more thorough investigations are taken.
However, like all other natural resources, certain fish species are
threatened as a result of unsound human exploitation strategies, such
species include the lobster (palinurus spp shark, (catfish arius
heudeloti) and the white grouper (Epinephelus aetheus) to name but a
The Gambia is endowed with a rich avifauna estimated at 1 bird species every 21.0
km2. It has no epidemics and only 2 species - the puff-back shrike (Dryoscopus
gambensis) and spur winged Goose (plectropterus gambensis) bear its
The components of biodiversity are ecosystem, species and genetic
diversity. From the point of view of The Gambia, biodiversity is not
restricted to the wild fauna and flora and associated ecosystems but,
it embraces the rich of biological diversity found in our domestic
species. This includes varieties of
crops and domestic animals
that have been bred and developed for thousands of years by farmers
engaged in agriculture.
About 100 years ago
water buck, kob, and hartebeest occasionally in their season could be
observed in Gambia. The smaller antelopes have not significantly
decreased in numbers during this period probably due to the size of
the human population.
There were always a few leopards living in Gambia, but they were
rarely killed and hyenas in certain locations became very bold and
more troublesome, frequently killing cattle quite close to
settlements. However, this apparent stable and healthy wild animal
populations status was not a recipe for inaction.
However, legal measures regulating the management and exploitation
of wild animals were put in place.
Specifically, regulations were made under section III of
wild animal, Birds &
Fish Preservation Ordinance" 1901.
Elephany, Giraffe Camelopardalis Peratta,
Congo Buffalo, Senegambian Buffalo, Red River Hog, West African Eland,
West African Hartebeest, Korrigum Hartebeest, Red Flanked Duiker,
Maxwell’s Duiker, Growned Duiker, Gambian Oribi, Waterbuck, Buffoons
Kob, Nagor Reedbok, Roan antelope, West African Sitatunga, Worthog.
The bubal hartebeest, Roan Antelope, and the water-buck
are currently rare visitors from neighboring Senegal. Unfortunately,
whenever any of these animals cross into The Gambia, local hunters
pursue them until they are either forced to move back or shot.
Out of the 117 species of animals known to have existed in The Gambia
about 13 have become extinct, and a similar number is threatened with
Stork, Egrets, Bustards, Francolins (Bush fowls) Grouse, Quail and
Crown Birds (Crested Cranes). Guinea Fowls, Sand
Marabou storks are protected by native customs in the neighbourhood of
all Muslim towns and villages, and it is in trees standing in the town
in which they nest in the Gambia. Storks are also protected during the breeding season or rather
during the rains.
One rare bird which is much sought after by
poachers for its skin is the Golden Cuckoo of
Foni and other forest areas. The rising human
population mixed with
local food production practices, have led to the loss of a
large part of The Gambia's forest cover as well as animal wildlife.