The Jakhaly rice-fields are 200 km from the coast, on the south bank of the Gambia River, close to the agricultural research station of Sapu, to the west of Janjanbureh (Georgetown). They formed the first and are still the largest pump-irrigated rice cultivation project in the country, fed from the river and created by the drainage of the freshwater Jakhaly swamp in the 1970s. Rice is cultivated throughout the year and the rice-fields are, in consequence, the largest area of standing water in the Central River Division in the dry season. The landscape is one of dry or shallowly flooded fields with a grid of feeder ditches, earth embankments and dirt tracks. There are some abandoned fields and natural pools with patches of tall swamp vegetation and floating plants dominated by Nymphaea spp. and Ipomoea aquatica. There is some scrub and occasional trees along the banks. The fields are in a basin of almost level ground which extends to the riverbank, along which mature trees are more frequent.
See Box for key species. In the 1970s Jakhaly swamp was well known for supporting large numbers of waterfowl, waders and Balearica pavonina. The rice-fields still regularly hold several thousand waterbirds. They are a breeding and wintering stronghold for Actophilornis africanus, which number up to 1,000 in the dry season, when hundreds of Himantopus himantopus, Limosa limosa and Tringa glareola are also present. Little is known about the waterbird numbers during the rains. Probable breeding species include Nettapus auritus, Porphyrio alleni and P. porphyrio.
Non-bird biodiversity: There is a declining population of Procolobus badius temminckii (EN) in the riverine woodland.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Jakhaly rice-fields. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/01/2023.