Tanbi wetland complex

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
The wetland lies at the mouth of the Gambia River and separates the capital Banjul from the urban centres of Serekunda, Bakau and their suburbs. Most of the site is low, open Avicennia mangrove scrub and taller Rhizophora mangrove cut by tidal creeks. There are small patches of saline mudflats between the mangrove and the rice-fields, which border much of the site to the south and west. In the north, the main highway linking Banjul to the mainland roughly follows, for some 10 km, the boundary between the mangrove and the shifting sand beaches and tidal lagoons of the Atlantic coast. In the extreme north-west there is a small area of freshwater marsh around Cape Creek. In the east the Bund Road, created to stabilize the land around Banjul, has enclosed several shallow lagoons whose tidal ranges are controlled. The largest expanses of mudflats are on the river immediately south of these lagoons and at the Mandinari flats, 5 km upriver.

Key biodiversity
See Box for key species. The area holds large numbers of non-breeding terns, gulls, herons, egrets and Palearctic waders. Larus audouinii is recorded occasionally in small (less than 10) numbers. The main concentrations of waders are at the Bund Road lagoons and adjacent mudflats. Gulls and terns flock here and on the Atlantic coast, particularly at the mouth of Cape Creek and the lagoons at the Wadner Beach Hotel. There is a roost of several thousand Bubulcus ibis in the mangrove around Cape Creek. In addition to the species listed below, Arenaria interpres, Calidris minuta and C. ferruginea also occur commonly in winter or on passage.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Trichechus senegalensis (VU) still occurs.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The Gambia has experienced a huge growth of its urban population and several hundred thousand people now live within 5 km of this wetland. Rice cultivation and vegetable gardening have encroached into the freshwater marsh. Shrimp fishing and oyster gathering are locally intensive. There is some uncontrolled dumping around the edge of the wetland. There are several hotels on the Atlantic coast and industrial development and sand mining towards Banjul. Coastal erosion and tourist development have removed the ornithological interest of parts of the Atlantic coast. Water-level control on the Bund Road lagoons appears to be erratic and the lagoons are vulnerable to encroachment by mangrove, reclamation or use as a dumping site. The mangrove is not under immediate threat, but must be vulnerable to large scale land reclamation due to its position. This complex of wetlands has been proposed as a Ramsar Site.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Tanbi wetland complex. Downloaded from on 10/08/2020.