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 River
Gambia 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
There are also small antelopes such as the Maxwell's duiker,
sitatunga and bushbucks.
Among 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
report 117 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 true 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 few.
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 specific
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 "The wild animal, Birds & Fish Preservation
Camelopardalis Peratta, Hippopotamus Amphibious,
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
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 extinction.
Stork, Egrets, Bustards, Francolins (Bush fowls)
Grouse, Quail and Crown Birds (Crested Cranes),
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
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.