Monkey Love, Bijilo Forest Park, The Gambia

I recently spent two months in West Africa visiting Senegal.  I have a Senegal album on my Flickr account with photos from Dakar, Lompoul, and Ziguinchor.  Whilst visiting the Casamance area in the south of the country I decided to take a trip to The Gambia.  The Gambia is the smallest country in mainland Africa and is completely surrounded by Senegal except for its coastline on the Atlantic Ocean.  It is home to the Bijilo Forest Park (aka Monkey Forest).  Click through the slideshow below for some images I took of the monkeys there:

The Bijilo Forest Park, or Monkey Forest is situated next to the coast in the Serekunda area some 11 km's west of Banjul, the capital of The Gambia.  There are various trails through the park that take you through the forest and coastal scrubland.  Many local people told me that there are no longer any monkeys left in the park but there were plenty on the day I visited.  I think the diversity of the monkey population has diminished over recent years with the Western Red Colobus monkey being pushed out of the area.  This has been blamed upon deforestation of the area as well as the practices of the park itself:  By encouraging tourists to buy nuts and feed the green monkeys, their numbers have risen massively pushing out the red monkeys.  I didn't see any red monkeys in the park whilst I was there but did see some along the main road in the mornings.  The green monkeys however are in an abundance (click through the carousel below for more monkey love):

Some major construction was taking place close to the entrance of the park when I visited with more of the park area being cleared for commercial development.  Hopefully enough forest survives for the existing monkeys but their future looks fragile. 

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