massive protest against the government’s unlawful annihilation of the Bijilo
Ecotourism Park was staged on 10 March 2017.
by over one hundred young environmentalists, tourism workers and tourists, the
protest took the form of a march-past from the park to the main Senegambia
junction, where the protesters chanted slogans like ‘Save the Nature, the
Monkeys Have Decided Too’.
organised by Climate Watch-The Gambia and Green Up, the demonstration was aimed
at denouncing the government’s unlawful demolition of the monkey park and
demanding for the perpetrators to immediately stop the surveying and levelling
it is carrying out and immediately commence restoring the chopped trees.
government’s devastation in the gazetted park is in gross violation of the
National Environmental Management Act, Coastal Zone Management Guidelines and
Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations respectively,” they said.
damaged site is an ecologically sensitive area that houses monkeys, retiles and
indigenous tree species with many other wild floras that are unique to the
on, the ministries of tourism and environment held a joint press conference
where Tourism Minister Hamat Bah admitted that the destruction of the park is
unlawful; but however added that the construction process will continue. He
said the place was allocated to Kuwaitis, Qataris and Saudis by the former
government to construct hotels and resorts totaling 13 hectares of the Bijilo
to the journalists after the protest, Kemo Fatty, the Director of Green-Up tree
planting initiative, said they are demanding genuine answers from the
government as to the truth behind the allocation and demolition of the park. He
said they will not relent in standing for environmental justice as the
inhabitants in the park have a right to life. “We want the government revive
the lost forest park. Afforestation process should start soon because we will
not allow any construction activity to take place in the park as it is a
legally protected area,” he maintained.
Executive Director of Climate Watch - The Gambia, Saikou Suwareh Jabai, said
they will not settle for anything less than an immediate cessation of the
so-called construction process and subsequently start restoring the gazetted
who doubles as the Green-Up coordinator, said the “unlawful demolition” of the
ecotourism park is an indication of the tourism ministry’s recklessness to the
lives of the monkeys, reptiles and birds “more despondently a total disregard”
to the environmental laws.
programme manager of Climate Watch, Omar Malmo Sambou, said the government
violates the National Environmental Management Act thus the perpetrators should
be brought to book if they decide to continue the construction process as the
tourism minister proposed.
said it is disheartening to see “the government, who should be the primary
protector of the environmental laws, violating it”.
park manager, Sulayman Jobe, expressed similar frustrations, calling on the
authorities to restore the park as it attracts tourists and earns income for
on the occasion included tourists, birdwatchers, tourist taxi drivers, and
other stakeholders who have already started feeling the impact of this unlawful