Abuko Nature Reserve, Africa, was the Gambia’s first reserve and is located in the Western Region (WR), (geographical coordinates: 13.41°N, 16.65°W). Part of it was accorded a form of ‘protected status’ back in 1916 when the source of the Lamin (Bolon) Stream was fenced to form a water collection point.
The evergreen forest gallery follows the course of the Lamin Stream and covers approximately 1/3 its total area. Efforts are being concentrated on maintaining the crooked bush trails, bird photo hides, the animal orphanage as well as the boundary to prevent encroachment by people and cattle.
There are a number of small pools at the bottom end or the reserve with the biggest being called the Bamboo Pool. In and around the freshwater pond is the ideal location to spot crocodiles and birds.
Its location is within easy reach by taxi from any of the main coastal holiday resorts. It is an ideal first stop for birdwatchers and animal enthusiasts as well as tourist in general.
There are designated guides on site to help you locate animals and birds while on the forest trail and a tip is always appreciated though not mandatory.
There are 4 primate species: Vervet monkey, Red Colobus monkey, red Patas and Bush Babies. The other mammalian types include the Grimms Duiker, Ground Squirrel, Savannah Antelopes, Bushbuck Colobus badius, Tragelaphus, Brush Tailed Porcupine, Viverra civetta, sitatunga T. spekei, Erythrocebus patas, Mungos gambianus, serval Felis, Heliosciurus gambianus, Thryonomys swinderianus, Galago senegalensis, Actophilornis Africana, Tauraco Persa, Gastropyxis smaragdina Crocodylus niloticus, Xerus erythropus, Cercopithecus aethiops, Palm civet Nandinia binotata and several types of rodent including the Cane Rat.
It has been estimated that there are over 290 bird species living within the forest gallery. Among the birds are Pied Kingfishers, African paradise flycatcher, Willow Warblers, waxbills, western bluebill , manikins, doves, lily trotters, giant kingfisher C. maxima, palm nut vultures, hammerkop Scopus umbretta, Ceryle rudis, grey headed bristle bill, white crowned robin chat, grey backed camaroptera, lanner falcon, pygmy kingfisher, violet turacoes, African thrush, fork tailed drongo, black Herons, squacco heron, oriole warbler, Black crake, red bellied fly catchers, little greenbul, yellow breasted apalis, cattle egrets, Abyssinian roller, purple glossy starling & the Green Touraco.
Fifty types of mature tropical trees have been recorded in the protected area. Abuko’s main geographic features are several kinds of habitat starting with thick tropical canopy which after 50 to 100m from the stream gives way to Guinean savannah.
Probably due to increased borehole water removal the natural habitat has seen the gradual disappearance of mature tropical trees of which the most obvious is the A. Procera and the E. Guineensis. For non-experts the trees are labelled.