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Tanji Bird Reserve lies on the Atlantic coast, surrounded by the expanding towns of Ghana Town/Brufut to the north-east and Tanji/Madiana to the south and east. The reserve habitat includes degraded savanna and stabilized sand-dunes, mangrove, and wooded grassland dominated by Parinari macrophylla, with small patches of tropical forest.
The reserve is bordered to the south by the tidal, saline reaches of the Tanji river, fringed with low mangrove forest, saltmarsh and mudflats. The river meanders northwest along a beach created by longshore drift until it enters the sea at Bald Cape.
The lateritic outcrop which edges the beach stretches km offshore to form the tiny and unstable Bijol islands, included in the reserve. These islands were wooded prior to 1960 but have degraded into four small islands covered with accumulated sand and patches of creeping halophytes (Ipomoea pescaprae and Sesuvium portulacastrum). Climate change and rising sea levels have eroded the laterite cliffs and beach structure along the Tanji River and Bijol islands. The shoreline has thinned dramatically with encroachment of salt water into the lagoons beyond the river inland, reducing the area of beach north of Tanji fish landing site.
The mouth of the Tanji at Bald Cape and Bijol Islands remain the most important sites in the country for flocks of most species of gulls and terns, with the greatest diversity of breeding and migrant species in The Gambia. The islands hold the only known breeding site in The Gambia for Caspian tern Hydroprogne caspia, Royal tern Thalasseus maximus and Grey-headed gull Larus cirrocephalus. Lesser Black-backed gull Larus fuscus and Caspian tern predominate in winter. Annual Larus audouinii and Pelecanus onocrotalus populations on Bijol islands fluctuate widely possibly attributable to disturbance, rising sea levels and variations in food availability.
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals of global conservation concern include Procolobus badius temminckii (EN) on the mainland. Ocean species include the dolphins Sousa teuzsii (DD) and Tursiops truncatus (DD) and the turtle Chelonia mydas (EN) which no longer breeds on Bijol island. Monk seals Monachus monachus (CR) used to frequent these waters but have not been observed for at least 10 years.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Tanji River (Karinti) Bird Reserve. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/01/2023.