Lord Derbys Anomalure Anomalurus derbianus

Sierra Leone

Hammer-headed Bat, Hypsignathus monstrosus, Gola Rainforest.

I first visited Sierra Leone in late March 2017 for a fabulous 10 days.  The mammal watching far exceeded expectations both in terms of the diversity of species we encountered but also the rarity of many of the species we found, with mega mammals like Water Chevrotain, Yellow-backed Duiker and Pygmy Hippo.

Water Chevrotain, Hyemoschus aquaticus. Gola Rainforest National Park. Photo by Phil Telfer.

Beyond the mammal watching, a trip here is a real chance to help with conservation efforts. The community run forest on Tiwai Island, for examples, relies on a very few ecotourists each year for its sustainability. So a trip to Sierra Leone is a chance both to see some amazing mammals but also to feel virtuous in the process. I visited two sites: Tiwai Island, and Gola Rainforest National Park.

Tiwai Island

Olive Colobus, Procolobus verus, Tiwai Island.

I spent four nights here in March, 2017 and our group saw the following.  There was exceptional primate watching with 10 species seen: Demidoff’s Galago, West African Potto,  Western Pied Colobus, Western Red Colobus, Olive Colobus, Sooty Mangabey, Campbell’s Monkey, Diana Monkey, Lesser Spot-nosed Monkey and Green Monkey. We also heard Thomas’s Galago. Other species included a Lord Derby’s AnomalureRed River HogGambian Sun SquirrelRed-legged Sun Squirrel, Miller’s Striped MouseAllen’s Wood Mouse, Straw-colored Fruit BatBuettikofer’s Epauletted BatNoack’s Roundleaf Bat, Beatrix’s Bat and an unidentified horseshoe bat.

Gola Rainforest National Park

Campbell’s Monkey, Cercopithecus campbelli

I spent 6 nights here in April 2017 and our group saw Hammer-headed Fruit BatsDemidoff’s Galago, Thomas’ Galago, West African Potto, African Palm Civet, Giant Squirrel, Slender-tailed Squirrel, Fire-footed Rope SquirrelPygmy HippopotamusRed River Hog (heard), Water ChevrotainRoyal Antelope, Maxwell’s Duiker, Yellow-backed Duiker and Western Tree Hyrax. We also heard Chimpanzees.

Lord Derby’s Anomalure, Anomalurus derbianus

Elsewhere we saw a Green Squirrels and Striped Ground Squirrels.

Community Reports

The World’s Best Mammalwatching

Sierra Leone’s Tiwai Island and Gola National Parks might not be the most luxurious destinations (OK, they are definitely not…) but they protect some of the last remnants of West African forest and some superb mammals including Pygmy Hippos, Royal AntelopeDiana and Red Colobus Monkeys and Hammer Bats. Every visit there helps protect this forest. See more of the World’s Best Mammalwatching.

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

Sierra Leone, 2018: Dominque Brugiere, 2 weeks & some great species including White-bellied Pangolin, Common Cusimanse, Congo Clawless Otter, Royal Antelope and fresh signs of Pygmy Hippo.

Pygmy Hippo Search, 2017: Jon Hall, 10 days & 35 species including Water Chevrotain, Royal Antelope, Yellow-backed Duiker, Pel’s Anomalure, 11 species of primates and a Pygmy Hippo.

Tiwai and Gola, 2016: Ben Schwienhart, 2 weeks & 35 species including .Tree Pangolin, Royal Antelope, Pohle’s Fruit Bat, Water Chevrotain, Beecroft’s and Lord Derby’s Anomalures and a lot of very nice primates. Ben’s preliminaries report is here Sierra Leone, 2016 (Preliminary Report).

Tiwai Island, 2016: Tobi Lundqvist, 5 days & 15 species including Long-nosed Cusimanse, Red River Hogs, Brooke’s Duiker and some nice primates.

Also See

Daan Drukker’s excellent Field Guide to West African Squirrels and Anomalures, with downloadable sound recordings, March 2023

Mysterious Anomalure in Gola Rainforest (April 2017)

RFI Gabon and Sierra Leone (May 2012)

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