The Guinean mangroves are a coastal ecoregion of mangrove swamps in rivers and estuaries near the ocean of West Africa from Senegal to Sierra Leone.
Location and description
Guinean mangroves can be found: in the Saloum River and Casamance deltas in Senegal; in the lower Gambia River basin; much of the coast of Guinea-Bissau, including the Cacheu and Mansoa Rivers; across the border in northern Guinea; and much of the coast of Sierra Leone including the Sherbro River. Mangroves thrive on flat coastal inlets and estuaries where the ocean tides wash warm salt water high upriver, in this ecoregion as far as 100 km, for example in the Cacheu River of Guinea-Bissau.
The mangroves have a varied composition with Rhizophora, Laguncularia racemosa and Conocarpus erectus growing up to 10m tall among larger areas of Rhizophora and Avicennia.
Mangrove swamps are important feeding grounds for fish, birds and animals. Marine wildlife includes oysters and shrimps. Mammals found here include the African manatee. Birds in these wet habitats include Goliath Heron, Purple Heron, Cattle Egret, Striated Heron, Western Reef Heron, Greater Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo, African Spoonbill, and African Sacred Ibis.
Threats and preservation
Mangrove habitats are under threat as trees are cut down for timber and firewood or to clear land for agriculture including rice farming. In southern Senegal for example efforts are being made to replant them. Urban areas near the mangroves include the Gambian capital, Banjul and the Guinea-Bissau capital Bissau. National parks in the region include Saloum Delta National Park and Basse Casamance National Park in Senegal, Niumi National Park in Gambia, and Tarafes de Cacheu Natural Park in Guinea-Bissau. The Saloum delta can also be accessed from the village of Foundiougne in Senegal.