Kiang West National ParkTanji/Karinti Bird ReserveBao Bolon Wetland Reserve
Abuko Nature ReserveRiver Gambia National ParkNiumi National Park

Protected Areas in The Gambia

General Information
Abuko Nature Reserve is situated outside the village of Lamin in the Kombo North District, 25 km from Banjul. The Reserve has been protected as a water catchment area since 1916. It was officially declared a Nature Reserve in 1968. In 1978 a further 29 ha. were added to the original 105 ha. bringing it up to its current size of 134 ha. The Reserve is rectangular in shape, centred on the Lamin stream which surfaces within the lower half of the Reserve.

The central portion of the reserve is composed of ground-water or gallery forest which surrounds a chain of 3 pools. This dense evergreen forest progressively gives way to Guinea Savannah the further one moves away from the water course, which has a grass and herb dominated understorey. Through the wet season (June to October) the grass grows to almost 2m, but as the dry season progresses it dies back. Within the extension to the reserve is grassland and orchard Savannah much enjoyed by many Savannah bird species and mammals. Despite its small area the reserve is also home to a wide diversity of mammals, birds and invertebrates. This is due primarily to its variety of habitat types coupled with the fact that the area was protected relatively intact.

Areas of Interest
There is something to interest everyone in Abuko Nature Reserve. It provides a good introduction to the flora, fauna and avi-fauna of The Gambia. Its unique nature allows the visitor to gain an insight into the biodiversity of The Gambia, both present and past. The pools in the Northeast end of the reserve hold a substantial population of Nile crocodiles, and attract a wide variety of birds and mammals, especially during the dry season. The pools also contain quite a variety of fish species. The education centre overlooks the crocodile pool and offers a splendid view of the pool and its surroundings. The centre is a two-storey structure which houses the environmental education programme. Here school children are shown the importance of conserving their environment through posters, displays and audio visual shows.

There are two photo hides along the route which overlook the upper section of the pools and provide excellent conditions for photographing and observing the wide range of birds, mammals and reptiles that utilise the pools and their surroundings. At the animal orphanage the visitor gets the opportunity to view some examples of Gambian wildlife up close (spotted hyena, bush buck,) as well as lions, now extinct in The Gambia. The orphanage is also a temporary home to animals and birds that had been held in captivity. (The Department of Parks and Wildlife Management has an ongoing programme of confiscating captive wild animals - the most common of these are primates and parrots.) These animals are kept at the orphanage until they are ready to be released back into their natural habitat.

Four species of primate occur in the reserve; the red colobus, the green or vervet monkey, the red patas and the bushbaby. Other mammals present include sitatunga, bush buck, Grimms duiker, sun-squirrel, striped ground squirrel, crested and brush-tailed porcupine, and a variety of rodents. Reptiles present include Nile and dwarf Crocodile, Nile and Boscs monitor, agama lizard, various skinks and geckos, python, puff adder, black-necked cobra and green mamba.

The best season for a visit is very much dependent upon what aspect of nature the visitor is seeking. Vegetation in the reserve is most lush in November/December, whereas fauna is better viewed from February - May when vegetation is least concealing. The best time of day to visit the reserve is either early morning or late afternoon as animals tend to seek shelter from the midday sun.

Over 270 species of birds have been recorded from Abuko Nature Reserve which reflects the value of this small area. The reserve contains an intact pocket of gallery forest in which numerous forest dependent species occur such as the green-crested touraco, little green bulbul and the yellow-chested apalis. The milky (or Verreaux's) eagle-owl is also resident and often heard calling in the late afternoon. The chain of pools within the lower end of the reserve attract a tremendous variety of bird life , from the white-spotted pygmy rail to African fish eagles. An afternoon spent at the Education Centre or one of the photohides will yield many good sightings.

At the south-western end of the reserve an extension of 29 ha. added in 1978 has been appropriately labelled the extension bird walk. The area is composed of Guinea savannah with open glades of bushed-grassland.

Kiang West National ParkTanji/Karinti Bird ReserveBao Bolon Wetland Reserve
Abuko Nature ReserveRiver Gambia National ParkNiumi National Park