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Important Bird Areas

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 12:49 -- abc_admin

Sierra Leone Tingi Hills

Image Credit: 
Andrew Hester
Gola Malimbe

Gola Malimbe

Image Credit: 
David Monticelli

Over 640 bird species have been recorded in Sierra Leone of which over 430 are resident and over 130 are regular seasonal migrants including 90 Palearctic migrants. There are 23 species of global conservation concern. The forests of eastern Sierra Leone form the western part of the Upper Guinea forests Endemic Bird Area (EBA) and 14 of its 15 restricted range species occur in the country. Some 174 species of the Guinea-Congo forests biome and 28 of the Sudan-Guinea Savanna biome are known from Sierra Leone. The coastline forms part of the eastern Atlantic flyway for migrant waterbirds and is probably one of the major stop-over and wintering sites for many Palearctic waders along the coast of west Africa.

10 sites in Sierra Leone have been identified as Important Bird Areas (IBAs) covering a total of 5,776 km2 or some 7.9% of the land area. These have been surveyed and species lists are available from CSSL (see contacts). Another 10 sites are regarded as potential IBAs but they have not yet been surveyed.

Two sites cover coastal wetlands and mangroves and between them are estimated to support a total of between 130,000 and 200,000 Palearctic waders annually the majority being winter visitors. 36 wader species have been recorded at Sierra Leone river estuary with large numbers of Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, Kentish Plover C.alexandrinus, Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola, Sanderling Calidris alba, Curlew Sandpiper C. ferruginea and Common Redshank Tringa totanus. Yawri Bay is located 60 km south-east of Freetown and 46 species have been recorded in the bay including Red Knot Calidris canutus, Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia and Royal Tern Sterna maxima.

Lake Sonfon and environs is a lake and inland wetland situated in a remote area in the mountainous north-east of the country and 60 km south of the town of Kabala. A total of 105 species have been recorded from this poorly surveyed area including Pied-winged Swallow Hirundo leucosoma, the near-endemic Emerald Starling Lamprotornis iris, Red-winged Pytilia Pytilia phoenicoptera and Dybowski’s Twinspot Euschistospiza dybowskii.

Six sites have forest habitat: Loma Mountains non-hunting Forest Reserve in the mountainous north-east of the country has a species list of 245 including Rufous Fishing-owl Scotopelia ussheri, White-necked Picathartes Picathartes gymnocephalus and Sierra Leone Prinia Prinia leontica; Tingi Hills non-hunting Forest Reserve is located in the easternmost mountain ranges close to the Guinea border and has a species list of over 200 including Yellow-casqued Hornbill Ceratogymna elata, Black-headed Rufous Warbler Bathmocercus cerviniventris and Rufous-winged Illadopsis Illadopsis rufescens; Kangari Hills non-hunting Forest Reserve is situated on a range of hills in the south-central region and has a species list to date of 115 which includes Brown-cheeked Hornbill Bycanistes cylindricus, Green-tailed Bristlebill Bleda eximius and White-necked Picathartes Picathartes gymnocephalus; Western Area Peninsula non-hunting Forest Reserve is part of the Freetown peninsula and contains the only remaining patch of tropical forest in the west of the country with over 300 species recorded which includes the vulnerable White-necked Picathartes Picathartes gymnocephalus and the near endemic Turati’s Boubou Laniarius turatii and a large number of other species of the Guinea-Congo forests biome such as Red-thighed Sparrowhawk Accipiter erythropus, Ahanta Francolin Francolinus ahatensis, Green Turaco Tauraco persus, Naked-faced Barbet Gymnobucco calvus, Brown-eared Woodpecker Campethera caroli, Vieillot’s Black Weaver Ploceus nigerrimus and Red-headed Malimbe Malimbus rubricollis; Kambui Hills Forest Reserve in the south-east has over 200 species recorded including Long-tailed Hawk Urotriorchis macrourus, Black Bee-eater Merops gularis, Ansorge’s Greenbul Andropadus ansorgei, and Fraser’s Sunbird Deleornis fraseri; and Gola Forest Reserve is the largest area of Upper Guinea rainforest in Sierra Leone (it also includes the Tiwai Island game sanctuary) with the largest number of nesting sites of White-necked Picathartes Picathartes gymnocephalus and good numbers of White-breasted Guineafowl Agelastes meleagrides plus all known threatened species from Sierra Leone, including Western Wattled Cuckoo-Shrike Lobotos lobatus, Gola Malimbe Malimbus ballmanni and Rufous Fishing-owl Scotopelia ussheri. Tiwai has 120 species of birds and is being rehabilitated to support tourist visitors and scientific researchers as it did before the war.

Outamba-Kilimi National Park is situated in the north of the country close to the Guinea border within the Sudan-Guinea Savanna biome and has a list of 256 species including the near endemic Turati’s Boubou Laniarius turatii and Emerald Starling Lamprotornis iris.

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

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