Working for birds in Africa

Important Bird Areas

Mon, 01/14/2013 - 22:58 -- abc_admin
Violet_Turaco_Gambia

Violet Turaco Musophaga violacea, The Gambia

Image Credit: 
Richard Gabb
Tanji_Reserve_Gambia

Tanji Bird Reserve, The Gambia

Image Credit: 
Courtesy of the Gambia Birding Group

Despite its small size and pressure on habitat, The Gambia has a rich avifauna and over 500 species have been recorded of which approximately half are known to breed. The majority of the country falls within the Sudan-Guinea Savanna biome and a few small forests of the Guinea-Congo Forests biome also remain. The inland and coastal wetlands attract large number of both Palearctic and intra-Africa migrants.

BirdLife International has listed 13 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in The Gambia covering 585 km2 or about 5% of the surface area and these include the country's protected areas and areas of high ecological value.

The following 2 IBAs are near the capital Banjul and hold rich assemblies of Guinea-Congo Forests biome species: Abuko Nature Reserve is possibly the most intensively watched forest in Africa and its species include African Goshawk Accipiter tachiro, Green Turaco Tauraco persa, African Pied Hornbill Tockus fasciatus, Little Greenbul Andropadus virens, Green Hylia Hylia prasina, Yellow-breasted Apalis Apalis flavida and Red-bellied Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone rufiventer; Pirang Forest Park species include Grey-headed Bristlebill Bleda canicapilla, Green Crombec Sylvietta virens and Western Bluebill Spermophaga haematina.

The following 2 IBAs have species of the Sudan-Guinea Savanna biome: Kiang West National Park is on the south bank of the Gambia River and holds Brown-necked Parrot Poicephalus robustus, White-fronted Black Chat Myrmecocichla albifrons, Dorst's Cisticola Cisticola dorsti, and Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser superciliosus; Prufru-Darsilami area is 350 km from the coast in the east of the country and holds Violet Turaco Musophaga violacea, White-crowned Robin-Chat Cossypha albicapillus and Oriole Warbler Hypergerus atriceps.

The remaining sites are wetlands chosen primarily for their migrant and wintering waterbirds. Niumi National Park is located in the north-west of the country, contiguous with the Delta du Saloum National Park and IBA in Senegal, and is important for its tern and gull roosts; Tanbi wetland complex lies at the mouth of the Gambia River close to Banjul and is important for terns, gulls, herons and Palearctic waders; Tanji River (Karinti) Bird Reserve along with the Bijol Islands are the most important sites in the country for most species of gulls and terns being the only known breeding sites in the country for Grey-headed Gull Larus cirrocephalus, Caspian Tern Sterna caspia and Royal Tern S. maxima; Allahein to Kartung coast is near the border with Senegal in the south-west of the country and may be a good site for waterbirds although the area is not well known ornithologically.

Bao Bolon Wetland Reserve is opposite Kiang West National Park on the Gambia River and extends to the Senegal border holding non-breeding populations of African Darter Anhinga rufa, Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus and Pink-backed Pelican P. rufescens; Samba Sotor to Kaur wetlands are located on the north bank of the Gambia River some 150 km from the coast, the lake near Kaur being one of the most important in the country for Egyptian Plover Pluvianus aegyptius, Kittlitz's Plover Charadrius pecuarius and White-headed Lapwing Vanellus albiceps; Dankunku wetlands lie on the opposite side of the river to the previous site and the wetlands are of a different character holding Pink-backed Pelican, Yellow-billed Stork Mycteria ibis, Marabou Stork Leptoptilos crumeniferus and Black Crowned Crane Balearica pavonina; Islands of the Central River Division are further east and comprise a number of islands in the river which are important for ducks, herons, egrets and cormorants; Jakhaly rice-fields are close to the previous IBA and hold several thousand waterbirds such as African Jacana Actophilornis africanus, Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus, Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa and Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola.

For further details, download the country IBAs from BirdLife International.

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