Saturday, April 16, 2011

Wildlife and Vegetation

Our surrounding area has an abundance of diverse wildlife and vegetation.  It is beautiful here.  And fun to see different wildlife and vegetation from back home.  So far, we have seen a few different species of monkeys – a small red one, baboons, and a small brown one.  We have no Gambian wildlife books available so we have not been able to identify the English names for the monkeys yet.  There are 5 species of monkeys that live in our area, and during the rainy season they are supposed to be all over the place! We have also seen mongoose, a variety of birds (including hornbills, kingfishers, pelicans and cranes), crabs, and lizards.  What we have not seen but heard accounts of are: porcupines, large bush rats, snakes, and a small type of deer.
The vegetation consists of wetland, mangroves and upland semi-tropical forest.  The forest has been cleared in the past but the remaining large trees that we have seen range from palms, baobobs, Melina, and red silk cottons. 
                                This is one of the little red monkies that frequents the tree by the garden. 
                                Its not a good picture but I like it because you can see him watching us! 

Baobob trees are fabulous and we have a lot here. They are big, single trunk trees that are very resilient.  Baobob trees can fall over completely and continue growing. They produce a large oval shaped fruit that can be the size of a person’s head.  The fruit is a chalky powder that tastes delicious and can be boiled into a nice juice that tastes like a milk shake. I would drink it every day.
Inside the village itself, there are a few avocado trees, 2 coconut trees, something called a ‘ja fruit’ that resembles breadfruit, several orange trees, and lots and lots of mangos.  The mangos are just beginning to ripen.  We had our first taste the other day and it was delicious! Now our mouths water as we watch the fruit grow on our trees in our compound.  Mango season lasts for about 2 months and are in abundance in our area.  Apparently during the end of the season you can buy a whole bucket of mangos for 30 dalasi (approx 1 USD). So, when we’ve had all the mangos we can eat, we are planning on making wine, jam, and salsa with the extras. 

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