Friday, December 28, 2012

Not Birding The Gambia Pt 1: Other Critters

And now for something completely different. Not birds at any rate! If you are birding in The Gambia you are bound to come across other major life forms as well as tourists and the locals. Reptiles abound - skinks and lizards frequently - big, poisonous snakes, unfortunately not at all. Although to pinch a line from Wikipedia 'There are 40 snake species, nine of which are venomous, such as cobras, puff adders and Mambas, genus Dendroaspis; the first two are common. The non-venomous species are pythons' OK safe then!
Plenty of these:
Nile Monitor Varanus niloticus
Only a couple of these Yellow-winged Bats found by our bird guide looking for anything that flies!
Yellow-winged Bat Lavia frons
But plenty of these in the evening flying around the pools of every hotel. Big with a two and a half foot wing span - stay alert!
Fruit Bat Eidolon helvum

!!!!!. Just west of McCarthy Island in the river there is this:
Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius
The most common monkey - especially on the coast. A good place to see these Calithrix monkeys is probably your hotel...whichever one it is.
Green Monkey or Calithrix Chlorocebus sabeus
This Western Red Colobus Procolobus badius in the Abuko Nature Reserve was the only one that we saw. This is the species favoured by hunting packs of Chimpanzees! But that can't account for their scarcity here. No chimps...further east Chimps but no Red Colobus.
Western Red Colobus Procolobus badius
We found a  small group of Red Patas Monkeys down near the beach close to the Footsteps Eco Lodge and they took as much interest in us as we did in them. They didn't have cameras.
Red Patas Monkey Erythrocebus patas
 Long shots of these Baboons from a moving boat - mean looking critters living alongside the Chimpanzees.
Guinea Baboon Papio papio
 Chimpanzee - gregarious and noisy and not at all friendly towards the Red Colobus Monkey. These were on, what was once, a rehabilitation island in the River Gambia. There are, I believe, upwards of 40 individuals now and they don't need no rehabilitatin'!
Chimpanzee Pan troglodytes


  1. Would you add your bat photos as citizen-science observations to the AfriBats project on iNaturalist ( AfriBats will use your observations to better understand bat distributions and help protect bats in Africa.

    If you decide to share your observations, please locate them on the map as precisely as possible to maximise the scientific value of your records.

    Many thanks!

    btw: please feel free sharing any other bat observations from Africa you might have.

    1. Happy to oblige. Could you let me have instructions for uploading pictures and sightings details.

    2. Sorry, just saw your reply - many thanks for your willingness to share! Contributing is very easy: just got to
      and after signing in hit "Add observation". A full project description can be found here:

      Let me know if you need any assistance!

      PS: the fruit bat is an epauletted bat, probably Epomophorus gambianus.