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Pirang-Bonto Forest National Park is an isolated forest of about 64ha in extent, surrounded by a variety of habitats including extensive salt flats, mangroves, Phragmites parkia stands, vegetable gardens, agricultural land, and a small community of people (Emms and Barnett, 2004). Even in the middle of the day, the high gallery forest remains relatively cool and peaceful. The forest is crisscrossed by trails and has two new waterholes which help visitors to see some of the shyer species in the forests!


Pirang-Bonto Forest is protected by the local community as a preserve for the practice of traditional community ceremonies and rites. Most of the shrubs and many trees are used in traditional medicine as local knowledge in the village about herbal remedies goes back many years! The forest is also the largest remnant of native forest in The Gambia and so the most important seed bank for The Gambia as the area has never been cleared and contains numerous rare and important floral species! 


The forest floor at Pirang-Bonto forest.


We have been working with Pirang-Bonto Forest for the past 10+ years as we believe it is the best and most impressive example of gallery forest in The Gambia. In that time we have provided funding for a water hole and the well to supply this. This water hole has massively benefited the ecosystem of the forest with many medium-sized mammals including monkeys, genets, civets and some reptiles (including green mamba) using the hole (find out more)! Our work with camera trapping has massively increased the understanding of the species present. These images are used to educate the children in the surrounding villages and schools as most locals are unaware of the threatened and globally important species that live on their doorstep! As well as this several years ago we provided images of a local hunter with a deceased green monkey. This allowed the village committee to place an injunction on the man and since then we have seen the arrival of baboons and patas monkeys in the forest and the numbers of green and the Endangered Temminck’s red colobus have increased!


Providing water for wildlife during the dry season. 

continued work

the fauna

The mammal fauna is very rich; all four native species of monkey are known to occur! Several small carnivores are also known to occur (largely from camera traps) including Gambian mongoose (often visible foraging in groups in the daytime) as well as white-tailed, striped, ichneumon and marsh mongooses. Genets and civets hunt at night and the forest is one of only 3 in The Gambia that has the African palm civet! Small numbers of bushbuck and cape clawless otters are present but these can be hard to see. Sun squirrels are also common throughout and easy to see!

The combination of well-preserved forest and a wide range of habitats nearby means that many bird species can be seen. These include many forest specialists with limited Gambian distributions including white-spotted flufftail, African wood owl (see picture below), western little sparrowhawk, great sparrowhawk, ahanta francolin, green turaco, yellowbill, buff-spotted woodpecker, red-shouldered cuckoo shrike, little greenbul, swamp palm greenbul, leaflove, grey-headed bristlebill, yellow-breasted apalis, yellow-bellied hyliota, green hylia, collared sunbird, green-headed sunbird, chestnut-breasted negrofinch, and western bluebill (Emms and Barnett 2004). It is also the only site in The Gambia for Puvel’s illadopsis!


The elusive white-spotted fluff-tail.


Troop of baboons.


Blue boston butterfly, one of many invertebrates you can see in the forest, and around The Gambia. 


White faced scops owl.



The forest committee (made up of representatives from both Pirang and Bonto villages) are working hard to preserve the forest and develop eco-tourism to help support the upkeep of the forest and support both communities.  Plans include the development of a borehole to provide running water for tourist facilities (washroon, w.c. etc.), a visitor centre and a Bantaba with cold drinks.  A tree nursery has been established and this will be used to grow seedlings of key forest species and to expand/enhance the forest!​

visiting pirang-bonto

A visit to this forest will encourage the efforts of the local villages to preserve and improve the largest remnant of native forest in The Gambia. To learn more about these activities and for expert guidance from the forest’s best friend and one of our team members, contact our Conservation Officer, Kawsu Gibba on (220)9887198 or (220)2076134. The forest can be reached in less than 1 hour from the coastal resorts of Kololi and Kotu.


Part of the Pirang-Bonto team! (L to R: Roy, Caitlin, Kawsu, Emily and Mariama)

how to visit

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