Yawri Bay

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
This site is located on the southern side of the Western Area Peninsula, about 60 km south-east of Freetown. It is a shallow coastal wetland, with a 9,100 ha expanse of intertidal mudflats, that extends along 60 km of foreshore and is backed primarily by mangrove swamps covering 24,505 ha (14% of the total area of mangrove swamp in Sierra Leone), interlaced with a network of creeks. The bay’s topography and location mean that its waters are sheltered. It is therefore an important spawning ground for fish. This has led to the development of fishing communities and the establishment of commercial fisheries along its shores.

Key biodiversity
See Box for key species. Forty-six species have been recorded in the bay. The globally near-threatened Sterna balaenarum was recorded from Sierra Leone for the first time in 1994 from this site, when 40 were seen. This constituted a significant westward extension of its global range; whether the species occurs here regularly is unknown. The African Waterfowl Census in January 1995 covered 30% of the bay and recorded 13,168 waterbirds. Other areas of the bay were not accessible at that time because of poor security, but it is thought that waterbird numbers regularly exceed 20,000 in the bay as a whole.

Non-bird biodiversity: Among mammals, there are records of Trichechus senegalensis (VU) from the bay, and the duiker Cephalophus maxwelli (LR/nt) inhabits the coastal forest.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The northern shore of the bay and Kagboro Creek, at its southern end, are proposed Game Sanctuaries. Chiefdom authorities in the area have passed by-laws controlling fishing and wood-cutting, but no official land-use policy exists. The mangrove swamps at the periphery of the bay are threatened by wood-cutting to provide fuel for smoking fish. Sustained fishing pressure by trawlers, mostly foreign, illegally operating within a 12-mile exclusion zone, poses a threat to the bay’s fish stocks. Heavy-metal poisoning from large-scale mining operations upstream along the Bumpeh river is suspected to be causing fish kills and may affect bird numbers within the bay. Despite this, Yawri Bay possesses the potential for designation as a Ramsar Site.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Yawri Bay. Downloaded from on 19/09/2020.