New Trip Report: Sierra Leone

Happy New Year to all mammalwatchers – and all watched mammals. Here is the first trip report for 2023.

Sierra Leone, 2020: Ben Balmford, 2 weeks & 34 species including Common Cusimanse, Red River Hog and some great primates and squirrels.



  • Daan Drukker

    That is some exciting stuff! If Ben is reading this: I don’t suppose you managed to take pictures of the squirrels and anomalures (or even better, make sound recordings)? The Pel’s Anomalure observation is most intruiging, as peralbus is not supposed to occur west of the Sassandra in Ivory Coast. Even auzembergeri has not been found west of Liberia, so it would be the first Pel’s for Sierra Leone if I’m not mistaken. I’ve never heard or seen anything else with white in the patagium btw.

    The Upper Guinea subspecies of Western Palm Squirrel have never been photographed alive in the wild as far as I could find, so that would have been very interesting as well.


  • benbalmford

    Hi Daan. Thanks for this.
    RE Pel’s – the patagium was definitely white, and looking back at conversations with Jon at the time, we noted that this white could be seen even when the animal was flat along the tree (and compared to the Lord Derby’s his was determined to be, ours had a uniform black tail). Interestingly, the book “The Gliding Mammals of the World” (see here: says “There is no evidence for its occurrence in Sierra Leone as previously believed.” – ie at one stage it WAS thought that Pel’s occured into SL. We really did think hard about the ID at the time and since, knowing it was a range extension, but we’re absolutely certain.

    On pictures, I dont think we do, but I’ll check with dad and let you know if I am wrong

    Jon mentioned you’re putting together a book on west african squirrels, we also had an African Pygmy Squirrel in Mbe Mountains, Nigeria, in Feb 22 – full report to come – but that is also a range extension westwards. Again, dad and I had rather good views (this time in daylight obviously).



  • Daan Drukker

    Hi Ben,

    Thanks for your answer! Great to hear about the Pygmy Squirrel. Its presence on the Nigerian side of the border was expected based on observations in Cameroon, but this is the first report I’ve heard of. I have added it to the guide.

    A Pel’s with a white patagium in Sierra Leone must be an undescribed taxon. Hopefully there will be further reports in the future with pictures. As there are melanistic Lor Derby’s Anomalures, perhaps other colour abbarations can be expected too, so that is something to consider as well. Please let me know if you have any squirrel or anomalure photos. You can reach me at

    Best regards!

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