gambia birding tour

​​​​​​​A highlight of the wildlife in Gambia is its avian population. The Gambia is a birdwatcher’s paradise, home to more than 550 different kinds of birds. Birdwatching in The Gambia is a fascinating experience, with majestic raptors like the African Fish Eagle and Bateleur Eagle as well as colourful species like the Violet Turaco and African Pygmy Kingfisher. The Gambia’s parks and wildlife reserves, such as the Abuko Nature Reserve and the Tanji Bird Reserve, offer excellent opportunities to spot a wide variety of bird species up close and help in conservation efforts. Some other notable Gambia wildlife reserves include Makasutu Cultural Forest and Niumi National Park.

In addition to its avian treasures, Gambia’s wildlife offers a diverse range of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. The country’s wetlands and riverine habitats are home to hippos, crocodiles, and West African manatees, while in its forests are primates such as the Green Vervet Monkey and the Red Colobus Monkey. The Gambia is also known for its reptile species, including the Nile Crocodile, African Dwarf Crocodile, and various snake species.

Wildlife in Gambia is not limited to its protected areas alone; it can also be found in local communities, and wildlife watching can also be combined with seeing some of the Gambian people’s cultural traditions. For instance, the sacred Kiang West National Park is not only a refuge for rare wildlife species such as the Derby Eland and Western Giant Eland but also holds cultural significance for the local Mandinka people. The park is used for traditional ceremonies and as a sanctuary for the area’s cultural heritage, showcasing the close relationship between people and wildlife in The Gambia.

Some of the notable wildlife in The Gambia includes:


The African Elephant, Hippopotamus, Cape Buffalo, Warthog, Spotted Hyena, Leopard, African Wild Dog, Common Chimpanzee, Green Monkey, Patas Monkey, Red Colobus Monkey, etc. are just a few of the many mammal species that are found in The Gambia. Among the mammals in the Gambia, these are only a few. The Gambia is also home to numerous other kinds of smaller animals, including bats, rats, and shrews.

The Gambia is home to a variety of mammal species including: African Elephant, Hippopotamus, Cape Buffalo, Warthog, Spotted Hyena, Leopard, African Wild Dog, Common Chimpanzee, Green Monkey, Patas Monkey, Red Colobus Monkey etc. These are just some of the mammals found in The Gambia. There are many more species of smaller mammals such as bats, rodents, and shrews that also call The Gambia home.


The Gambia’s most prevalent mammal is the Hippopotamus. It can be found in the rivers, lakes, and Kiang West National Park in The Gambia. In order to prevent overheating and sunburn, these semi-aquatic mammals spend most of their time in the water. Hippos consume grasses, reeds, and other water plants since they are herbivores. They are renowned for their enormous size and aggressive nature, particularly when they perceive a threat. More people have died at the hands of hippos in Africa than at the hands of any other large creature. Hippos are regarded as one of the most hazardous animals in the world. Despite their reputation for being aggressive, hippos are an essential component of the ecology and help to keep the watery ecosystems where they reside in balance.​​​​​​​


Monkeys are amongst some of the most interesting wildlife in The Gambia, and they include the male vervet monkey, the green vervet monkey, the red colobus monkey, and the patas monkey. These primates can be found in forests and savannahs and are known for their acrobatic behaviour and interesting social structures.

Among all of the monkeys, male vervet monkeys are commonly found in The Gambia, as they are native to many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, including savannas, forests, and riverine habitats. Vervet monkeys are social animals that live in groups, or troops, of up to 50 individuals.

Male vervet monkeys play an important role in troop dynamics, as they are responsible for defending the group from predators and other threats. They also engage in dominance displays and physical fights to establish their rank within the troop hierarchy.

Vervet monkeys are omnivorous, feeding on a variety of foods, including fruits, insects, and small animals. They are known for their agility and speed, as well as their adaptability to a range of habitats.


Both gigantic and white-bellied pangolin can be found in The Gambia. Due to the huge demand for their scales, these unusual mammals—known for their scaly armour—are regrettably among the most trafficked species in the world. You can get a chance to view one of these increasingly rare animals in the wild in The Gambia.


There are several species of bats found in The Gambia, including fruit bats and insect-eating bats. Some of the most common species include the straw-colored fruit bat, the Egyptian fruit bat, and the Gambian epauletted fruit bat.

Fruit bats are known for their role in pollination and seed dispersal, while insect-eating bats help control populations of insects, including agricultural pests. Bats are also an important part of the ecosystem in The Gambia as a food source for predators such as birds of prey and snakes.

Bats in The Gambia face several threats, including habitat loss and degradation, hunting, and disease. The destruction of forests and wetlands reduces the availability of roosting sites and food sources, while hunting for bushmeat and the use of bat parts in traditional medicine have resulted in declines in bat populations. Additionally, diseases such as the White-nose Syndrome have also had devastating effects on bat populations in other parts of the world.
Conservation efforts to protect bats in The Gambia include promoting sustainable land use practises to maintain habitats and protect roosting sites, as well as raising awareness about the importance of bats in the ecosystem.


Baboons are a type of primate that can be found in The Gambia’s wildlife, particularly in the savanna woodlands and grasslands of the country. The olive baboon is the most common species of baboon found in Gambia, but there are also smaller populations of the Guinea baboon and the yellow baboon.

Baboons in Gambia are social animals, living in groups of up to 150 individuals. They are opportunistic eaters, feeding on a variety of foods such as fruits, seeds, insects, small mammals, and even carrion. They are also known to raid crops and gardens, which can bring them into conflict with humans.


Gambian wildlife features several species of crocodiles, including the Nile crocodile and the West African slender-snouted crocodile. These reptiles can be found in rivers, creeks, and swamps across the country.

In addition to crocodiles, The Gambia is home to various species of snakes, lizards, and turtles. Some of the common species include the puff adder, green mamba, and African spurred tortoise.
The Gambia is a nesting ground for several species of turtles, including the green turtle, leatherback turtle, and hawksbill turtle. These marine turtles come ashore to lay their eggs on the beaches of The Gambia, and conservation efforts are in place to protect their nesting sites.


Crocodiles are commonly found in The Gambia, particularly in the rivers, swamps, and wetlands of the country. The two species of crocodiles found in The Gambia are the Nile crocodile and the West African crocodile.

Nile crocodiles are the larger of the two species and can grow up to 6 metres (20 feet) in length, although they are typically smaller in The Gambia. West African crocodiles are smaller, typically growing up to 4 metres (13 feet) in length. Both species are carnivorous, feeding on a variety of prey, including fish, birds, and mammals.

Nile crocodile

 Nile crocodile


The Gambia is home to a wide variety of lizard species, including geckos, agamas, skinks, and monitor lizards. Forests, savannas, and marshes are just a few of the places where these lizards can be found.

The Gambia is home to a wide variety of lizard species, including a common group known as geckos. They are renowned for having the ability to use unique pads on their feet to climb walls and ceilings. Agamas are also widespread in The Gambia, where they are frequently vividly coloured and have distinguishing body patterns.
Another popular group of lizards in The Gambia is the skink family, which includes numerous species that can live in a variety of habitats and eat a variety of foods. The largest lizards in The Gambia are monitor lizards, with the Nile monitor being the most prevalent variety.


The Gambia is home to several species of turtles, such as the green turtle, hawksbill turtle, olive ridley turtle, and leatherback turtle. These turtles are found in the coastal waters and along the beaches of The Gambia, where they come to lay their eggs.

All species of sea turtles are considered endangered or threatened, and conservation efforts to protect them in The Gambia include measures such as monitoring nesting beaches, protecting nests from predators, and reducing pollution and habitat destruction.

Hawksbill turtles are the most common species found in The Gambia, with their distinctive beaked heads and beautiful shell patterns. They are known to nest along the beaches of the Bijilo Forest Park, Kotu and Kartong beaches, and other areas along the Gambian coastline.

​​​​​​​Green turtles are also found in The Gambia, and they are known for their large size and herbivorous diet. Olive Ridley and Leatherback turtles are much rarer in the country but are occasionally spotted in Gambian waters.


With more than 550 kinds of birds identified in the nation, The Gambia is a birdwatcher’s dream, as we have previously stated. Bird species, including the African fish eagle, Goliath heron, and numerous types of kingfishers, storks, and egrets, are abundant in The Gambia’s wetlands and coastal areas. The best sites to watch these birds in Gambia are parks and nature reserves.

Violet turaco

 Violet turaco

​​​​​​​Butterflies and the other insects

The Gambia has a diverse array of insect species, including colourful butterflies, beetles, bees, and dragonflies that play important roles in pollination and assist with vegetation decomposition and healthy ecosystem functioning.

In particular, The Gambia is known for its diverse butterfly population, with numerous species fluttering through its forests, gardens, and across its savannahs. Some of the common species include the African monarch, the African swallowtail, and the African leopard butterfly.
Termites are abundant in The Gambia and play important roles in nutrient cycling and ecosystem functioning. They are known for their impressive mound-building activities, which can be seen in various habitats across the country.


There are several butterfly species in the Gambia. The African monarch butterfly, the common diadem butterfly, the common grass yellow butterfly, the common blue butterfly, the showy commodore butterfly, and the African emigrant butterfly are a few of the common species found in Gambia.

​​​​​​​In the Gambia, butterflies can be found in a range of environments, such as wetlands, grasslands, and woods. As pollinators and a source of food for other animals, they are crucial to the ecology.


Bees are a vital component of the environment in the Gambia, helping to pollinate both domesticated plants and wild ones. The African honeybee, the carpenter bee, and the stingless bee are just a few of the different species of bees that may be found in the Gambia.

The most prevalent species of bee in Gambia is the African honeybee, sometimes referred to as the killer bee. They have a reputation for being aggressive and, if provoked, can be dangerous to people. But they also make honey, which is a significant source of income for many beekeepers in the Gambia.

Carpenter bees, which are well recognised for their capacity to drill holes in wood, are also present in the Gambia. They can still sting if threatened, despite not being as violent as African honeybees.

Meliponines, sometimes referred to as stingless bees, are a rare species of bee found in Gambia. They lack a stinger and are smaller than other bee species. They play a crucial role in pollination and generate honey, which is prized for its therapeutic qualities.

Malachite kingfisher

Malachite kingfisher


Dragonflies are a common sight in The Gambia. There are several species of dragonflies that can be found in Gambia, including the African emerald dragonfly, the crimson dropwing, and the blue-eyed hooktail.

Dragonflies are important predators in the ecosystem, feeding on insects like mosquitoes and flies. They are also indicators of the health of wetland ecosystems, as they require clean water to thrive.

Gambia has several wetland areas where dragonflies can be found, including the Abuko Nature Reserve and the Tanji Bird Reserve. The Gambia Birdwatching and Wildlife Guide Association offers guided tours of these areas, where visitors can observe and learn about the dragonflies and other wildlife.

Nile monitor

 Nile monitor


It’s important to note that wildlife populations and habitats in The Gambia are constantly changing and may be subject to threats from human activities such as deforestation, poaching, and climate change. However, many conservation efforts, including the preservation of protected areas and national parks, are in place in The Gambia to help safeguard its unique wildlife and habitats for future generations to enjoy.
Visitors to The Gambia can also engage in responsible ecotourism activities, such as guided nature walks and boat trips organised by community-based tourism initiatives that contribute to the conservation of the country’s wildlife and support local communities. The Gambia’s commitment to conservation and sustainable tourism makes it an ideal destination for wildlife enthusiasts who value responsible travel.

Gambia wildlife tours / Gambia Wildlife Holidays: Do you want to have Gambia wildlife tours or have a holiday watching the wildlife in Gambia? Please visit this link.

About the author:

Karanta Camara
A photographer experienced bird tourguide
for over 18 years experience across The Gambia
and Senegal also doubled as the President BWA

​​​​​​​Facebook link          Instagram link  

Read also: 
The Gambia Tours

Gambia River Tours

Birding and Photography in The Gambia and Senegal

Best Time For Birding In The Gambia

Birds Of Senegal And The Gambia

Birds of Senegal   

Wildlife Tours in Senegal  

​​​​​​​Into the Heart of the Wild: Fathala Wildlife Reserve​​​​​​

Also read read the conservation policy of Gambia Birding Tours

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