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The Gambia: A safe haven for birds

Sep 2, 2010, 12:13 PM | Article By: Abdourahman Sallah

Mamadou Lamin Gassama, policy and program officer at the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management, has said that good environmental indicators across the globe show that Gambia is a safe haven and one of the hottest spots for birds in the world.

According to Mr. Gassama, about 25 percent of the tourists visiting the Gambia are eco-tourists, and they are attracted by these rare species living within the protected areas in the country.

Gassama made this statement while speaking during the opening ceremony of a 15-day capacity building for park rangers and staff held at Darwin Field Station Training Centre in Abuko on Monday 23rd August 2010.

According to Mr. Gassama, this particular training course focused on monitoring, identification and survey of the West African manatee, crocodiles, dolphins and marine turtles.

He added that, apart from dolphins and crocodiles, the West African manatee and marine turtle are highly endangered species across the world, and they are rare and difficult to spot. This is due to human activities around their habitat, he said. 

With this intensive training, participants would be able to assess their respective protected areas to quantify the number of species in the country, Gassama said, adding that it is important to have records of all species, particularly the reptile family, their trend, status, welfare etc., as this will enable policy makers to plan effectively.

"If proper records are taken, this would help policy makers to prepare an effective and sustainable management plan for each protected area site", he said. He noted that some of these rare species such as the West African manatee can be re-introduced to our protected areas, but was quick to add that this requires resources and technical expertise. For the manatee they need a camp, danger-free and artificial environment to be created or a sanctuary where they can increase their population and finally be sent back to the wild, like in the case of Abuko Nature Reserve.

Mr. Gassama urged Gambians, especially those living in the coastline areas, to adhere to environmental laws because most of this aquatic species are endangered by human activities.