There are a lot of different types of flowers, plants and trees in Gambia. In 1980 there was about 50,000 ha forest left. Within 8 years this was reduced to only 10,000 ha because of the deforestation for firewood and the building of houses and by the growing Sahara. The last couple of decades the country has started a couple of reforest projects.
One of the most recognisable trees in Gambia is the cotton tree which can grow to over 50 meters high. The so-called Kapok, which comes from the seeds of the tree, is used to fill matrasses and pillows.
The Cola tree produces the Cola nuts. This is not only an ingredient for the soda, but is also used at ceremony’s for weddings and births. These nuts contain a lot of caffeine and serve to replace alcohol at Islamic rituals. To free the caffeine they chew on the nuts.
At the river deltas the mangrove forests grow and they can reach far into the country. At the riverbed, oysters attach themselves on the roots of the mangroves. From the shells of the oysters they make clay for the paved paths.
The acacia tree grows in the dryer parts of Gambia and they produce gum which is very important for the traditional African medicines.
The most characteristic tree of whole Africa is the Baobab tree. This tree can grow to 20 meters in length and can be more than 2000 years old. The Baobab plays an important part in a lot of African myths and legends and is also called the Tree of Life. This tree provides the people with wood for their protection, to make firewood, to make ropes and clothing from the skin of the tree, can be used as a water reservoir, the leaves are eatable and its fruits are highly nutritious. When you are on the local market, ask for Baobab ice cream, it is delicious!
Another well-known tree is the Cashew tree. This tree does not only provide the famous nuts, but the cashew fruit also softens a sour throat, toothache and eases a fever. The skin of the tree is used as an anti-diarrhea medicine when its cooked properly. To soften snakebites the seeds will be crushed and its oil is used by yeast infections and parched skin on your feet.
Flowers like lilies, wild orchids, hibiscus and bougainville bring colour and lovely smells to their surroundings. Of the hibiscus flower a delicious drink is brewed, called Wonjo. This drink is a bit similar to cranberry juice. Also the flower of the hibiscus is used to give colour to the so-called batik cloths.
In Gambia a lot of plants and trees are used for medicinal goals. Your guide of Gambiasafari.com can tell more about this and can also arrange a visit to a traditional medicine man (Marabout).
Gambia is a true paradise for those who love birds. Until now there are about 450 different known species and sometimes there are still new species discovered.
Unfortunately all big mammals are extinct in Gambia due to the big hunting parties in the 19th century. So you will not find the well-known African Big Five in Gambia, but in the inlands you can find hippos and crocodiles in the Gambian River.
In Gambia live several monkey species like the Green monkey and Wadi monkey. On several places there are also baboons. Chimpanzees only live at the Baboon Island National Park now a days.
In Gambia and Senegal there are several national parks and reserves where you can admire several species of animals. Under SAFARIS you can find more information about these parks and other animal safaris.