Nature Reserve, Africa, was the Gambia's
and is located in the Western Region (WR), (geographical
coordinates: 13.41°N, 16.65°W). Part of it was accorded
a form of 'protected status' back in 1916 when
the source of the Lamin (Bolon)
Stream was fenced to form a water collection point.
1967 a local Gambian man called Kalilu requested the
then acting wildlife officer, Eddie Brewer (OBE), to
shoot a leopard that had been killing their pigs which
had been feeding there illegally. When he visited the
spot with his daughter, Stella, they saw an amazing
richness of Gambian wildlife
and flora and realised the conservation importance of
the stream running through Abuko. They made a request
to the government
to protect it which was promptly approved when it
was officially declared a nature reserve in March 1968.
size was extended from 188 to 259 acres in 1978 and
enclosed in a 2.5 metre fence with the help of the WWF.
It is among six protected wildlife management parks
and covers an area of 105 hectares (roughly 2 sq. km).
The park is rectangular in shape with a surrounding
narrow strip around its boundaries acting as an extra
buffer zone. Later in its development 2,000 malina trees
were planted to act as an extra barrier against encroachment
Today, Abuko is the Gambia's most visited tourist attraction
receiving approximately 33,000 visitors per year. One
interesting fact is that it is the nearest tropical
forest to Europe.
evergreen forest gallery follows the course of the Lamin
Stream and covers approximately 1/3 its total area.
Efforts are being concentrated on maintaining the crooked
bush trails, bird photo hides, the animal orphanage
as well as the boundary to prevent encroachment by people
and cattle. There are a number of small pools at the
bottom end or the reserve with the biggest being called
the Bamboo Pool. In and around the freshwater
pond is the ideal location to spot crocodiles and birds.
Its location is within easy reach by taxi
from any of the main coastal holiday resorts.
It is an ideal first stop for birdwatchers
and animal enthusiasts as well as tourist in general.
There are designated guides on site to help you locate
animals and birds while on the forest trail and a tip
is always appreciated though not mandatory.
The conservation of the animals and plants is managed
by the Department
of Parks and Wildlife Management who are based at
Field Station for Biodiversity. There main aim is
to protect the location and prevent species extinction
and helps to fund its activities by charging day trippers
an entrance fee.
types of mature tropical trees have been recorded in
the protected area. Abuko's main geographic features
are several kinds of habitat starting with thick tropical
canopy which after 50 to 100m from the stream gives
way to Guinean savanna. Probably due to increased borehole
water removal the natural habitat has seen the gradual
disappearance of mature tropical trees of which the
most obvious is the A. Procera and the E. Guineensis.
For non experts the trees are labelled.
has been estimated that there are over 290 bird species
living within the forest gallery. Among the birds are
Pied Kingfishers, African paradise flycatcher, Willow
Warblers, waxbills, western bluebill , manikins, doves,
lily trotters, giant kingfisher C. maxima, palm nut
vultures, hammerkop Scopus umbretta, Ceryle rudis, grey
headed bristle bill, white crowned robin chat, grey
backed camaroptera, lanner falcon, pygmy kingfisher,
violet turacoes, African thrush, fork tailed drongo,
black Herons, squacco heron, oriole warbler, Black crake,
red bellied fly catchers, little greenbul, yellow
breasted apalis, cattle egrets, Abyssinian roller, purple
glossy starling & the Green Touraco.
are 4 primate species: Vervet monkey, Red Colobus monkey,
red Patas and Bush Babies. The other mammalian types
include the Grimms Duiker, Ground Squirrel, Savannah
Antelopes, Bushbuck Colobus badius, Tragelaphus, Brush
Tailed Porcupine, Viverra civetta, sitatunga T. spekei,
Erythrocebus patas, Mungos gambianus, serval Felis,
Heliosciurus gambianus, Thryonomys swinderianus, Galago
senegalensis, Actophilornis Africana, Tauraco Persa,
Gastropyxis smaragdina Crocodylus niloticus, Xerus erythropus,
Cercopithecus aethiops, Palm civet Nandinia binotata
and several types of rodent including the Cane Rat.
to the monkeys
of The Gambia:
E. D. Starin 1
a1 Department of Anthropology, City University of
New York, Graduate Center, 33 West 42nd Street, New
York City, NY, USA. Published online by Cambridge
University Press 24 Apr 2009.
There are five, perhaps only four, monkey species
in The Gambia and all are under threat. The main problems
are habitat destruction, hunting of crop raiders and
illegal capture for medical research. The information
presented here was collected during a long-term study
from March 1978 to September 1983 on the socio-ecology
of the red colobus monkey in the Abuko Nature Reserve.
Further information was collected during brief periods
between February 1985 and April 1989 on the presence
of monkeys in the forest parks. It is not systematic
nor extensive, but it indicates clearly that action
is needed if monkeys are to remain as part of the
country's wildlife. The most pressing need is for
survey work to supply the information needed to work
out a conservation plan."
the reptiles at the park are the Monitor Lizard, Nile
Crocodile, West African crocodile, Dwarf Crocodile,
Spitting Cobra, black cobra, python Python sebae, Puff
Adders, emerald snake & Green Mamba though it is
rare to see.
There are also numerous butterflies and moths such as
there you can also visit the Animal Orphanage which
was set up in 1997 as a rehabilitation centre by the
DPWM. It cares for parrots, hyenas as well as
various kinds of Monkeys including Chimpanzees. Also
located on the reserve is the Darwin
Field Station which is a research centre focused
on maintaining The Gambia's biodiversity. There is also
an exhibition, the Abuko Conservation Education Centre
and refreshments area which are concentrated around
the animal orphanage.
your trek you will first come across loose leafed Guinea
savanna and you will see trunks covered in mud deposited
by tree ants. The trail later drops towards the main
Bamboo Pool which is partly covered in water-lilies
and fringed by large palms. You will then come across
a wooden foot bridge which spans a small swampy stream
and goes past the first bird hide and towards the visitor's
centre. This building was built in 1970 as a rest house
If you make your way up to the observation platform
it is possible to get a birds-eye-view of large
lizards, numerous feathered avians and Dwarf or Nile
Crocodiles (particularly in the mornings when they come
out of the water to sunbath).
this point you follow the nature trail which leads you
to thick, dark, lush vegetation. As you turn left you
will see the first glimmering of open bright savanna
which is soon interrupted by more thick jungle
which is interspersed at ground level with huge trunks
and large root systems. If you look carefully you can
see numerous ground squirrels, brightly coloured beetles,
vervet monkeys, soldier ants, birds and butterflies.
As you continue along the cooked path leading along
the southeast you will arrive at an enclosure housing
some vultures and hyenas at the Animal Orphanage.
is a kiosk here where you can enjoy some refreshments.
In the next enclosure you can observe Crowned cranes,
baboons and bushbuck and next to them you will come
across a few lions. From this area there is a path that
veers off towards the exit if you are feeling a little
tired by this time.
A walk along the trail can take you a couple of hours
though there is a short-cut route.
& Wildlife Management
Tel no: +220 4376973
you are not with a tour
operator you can pick up a cheap bush taxi from
Westfield Junction that is going to Lamin Village on
the main Serrekunda
to Brikama road and ask to be let off at the front entrance.
The best time to visit for birdwatchers
is early morning or late afternoon as you can avoid
the tourist crowds who tend to come over in the late
morning or early afternoon.
Wear thick sturdy boots, use mosquito repellent and
bring along some refreshments if you plan to stay long.
An entrance fee is payable. With a tour operator it
could cost around £2.50 for a day trip. If you use a
operator then the cost could be up to £30 for a
full guided tour as well as hotel transfers. Refreshments
are available should you wish to spend the day there.