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Bijilo Forest Park (Gambia)

Hotels Bijilo Resort
   
Nature Trail Animals & Birds
Introduction:
Bijilo Forest Park & Nature Trail (Monkey Park) lies in the coastal zone, next to the beach, about 11km west of Banjul capital, in the Kombo Saint Mary District, of The Gambia in West Africa. The species rich, fenced woodland was gazetted in 1952 & covers an area of 51.3 hectares (126 acres / about half a square km), & is on the Atlantic Ocean beach at the southern end of the Senegambia area of Kololi. It has a total length of 1,500 meters parallel to the coast & width of 350 meters, & the soils are deep & well drained. The protected nature reserve is comprised primarily of a closed canopy forest with a significant number of rhun palms, & with a relatively thin strip of herbaceous dune vegetation.

Between 1951 to 1956 the only land management activity implemented was the clearing of fire lines along the boundaries on both sides of the fence. In 1977 the park was re-surveyed by the Dept. of Forestry and again in 1982, this was followed by an inventory of the park. A nature trail was created by the Gambian-German Forestry Project in 1991, when the area was made open to the public, & now receives about 23,000 visitors a year.



 

Nature Trail & Habitats:
The nature trail in Bijilo Forest Park is over 4.5 km of signposted footpaths that winds its way through contrasting habitats of forest, coastal scrubland and sand dunes. The majority of it is reasonably level though there are several steeper inclines with roughed out steps. For the park's visitors there are wooden benches and shaded covers set up at convenient points along the path and also some viewing areas overlooking the sand dunes, beachfront and the Atlantic ocean. You can find a map of the various routes on boards located throughout the mini-forest. There is also a 'straight' footpath which cuts through the scrub and forest close to the beach called the 'ornithological path'. This route provides good opportunities to spot many of the park's bird life. There is also a pond in the forest which is maintained and acts as a watering hole for many creatures.





Fauna:
The rainforest is home to various invertebrates, reptiles and mammalian species. Among the primates are troops of Green Vervet Monkeys, Western Red Colobus Monkeys, Senegal Bushbabies (Gulagos), Callithrix Monkey, Campbell's Mona Monkey and Patas. Other mammal species includes the Sun Squirrel, African Civet, Genets, Mongoose, Brush Tailed Porcupine and some rodents. Among the reptiles here are Agama, Rainbow and Monitor Lizards and you can also see fire ants, dragonflies, termites, butterflies, and the Golden Silk Orb-weaver among the numerous of insects and spiders.





Note: There are signs requesting locals and holidaymakers alike to not feed the monkeys, as this will reduce their fear of humans and disrupt their natural behaviour, which then increases the danger of small primates being stolen or hurt.  There is also the problem of litter cased by such food packaging. There are plenty of fruit trees and other naturally growing foods for them to feed on.

Avi Fauna:
Bijilo Forest Park is rich in birdlife and offers excellent opportunities for bird watching in The Gambia. Over 133 bird species have been recorded here with various hornbills, pheasants, cuckoos, sunbirds, starlings, weavers, waxbills, eagles and hawks, etc. Some of the recorded species are the Black-necked Weaver, Red-billed Hornbill,  Greater Honeyguide, Green-backed Eremomela, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Bearded Barbet, Oriole Warbler, Lizard Buzzard, Variable Sunbird, Western Grey Plantain Eater, Blue Breasted and Woodland Kingfisher, Yellow Crowned Gonolek, Paradise Flycatcher, Senegal Coucal, African Grey Hornbill, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Red-necked Falcon, Black-billed Wood-dove, Reinward's Babbler, Hooded Vulture, Snowy-crowned Robin-chat, Violet Turaco, Fanti Saw-wing, Laughing Dove, Little Bee-eater, Ahanta Francolin, White-throated Bee-eater, Stone Partridge, Palm-nut Vulture, Peregrine Falcon, Long-tailed Nightjar and many other avians.





Flora:
 Mixed Pterocamus & Borassus Stand
The African Padauk and Palmyra Palm stand is found on the plateau. Other species present in the stand include Terminalia, oil palm  and a variety of other species like Cordyla, Piliostigma, Prosopis, and Entanda.

 Rhun Palm stand
This exists on the slope to the Atlantic Ocean and exhibits the best growth rate.

 Shrub & Parinari Macrophylla Sabine Stand
The sand dunes on the sea side is stocked with brush and shrub.

You can also find lilies, salt-tolerant vines, wild orchids, climbers, towering silk cotton trees, and the occasional baobab tree (sometimes referred to as the upside down tree).

Travel Information & How To Get There:
The Bijilo Forest Park Nature Trail is next to the entrance to the Kololi Beach Club and is within easy walking distance to the Senegambia Hotel and Kairaba Hotel. To get there you can either walk directly from the Senegambia beach area or use the road from the strip and stroll directly down southwards until you get to the link-chain fence and sign, then turn right, and walk down towards the beach and you will see the main entrance to your left, with attendant guides. Their opening hours are from 8am to 6pm every day.

See also Safety.

Contact Address Details:
Dept. of Forestry &
the Environment

Marina Parade
Banjul, The Gambia
West Africa
Tel no: +220 422 7307
Email: info@mofen.gov.gm

[Geographical coordinates 13.4328 N, 16.7264 W  / Kombo North St. Mary District (Ksmd)]
 
See also the resort of Bijilo
 
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