Lake Sonfon

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Lake Torisim
Lake Confon
Lake Sonfon.jpg
Location Diang
Koinadugu District
Coordinates 09°15′N 11°30′W / 9.250°N 11.500°W / 9.250; -11.500Coordinates: 09°15′N 11°30′W / 9.250°N 11.500°W / 9.250; -11.500
Primary inflows 7 small streams
Primary outflows Pampana River
Basin countries Sierra Leone
Surface area 8.2 km2 (3.2 sq mi)
Max. depth 8 m (26 ft)
Surface elevation 549 m (1,801 ft)

Lake Sonfon, also known as Lake Confon, is a fresh water mountain lake in Diang, Sierra Leone of religious and cultural significance.[1] The nearest towns are Kabala that is 60 km to the north and Benugu that is 40 km to the south. It is located in the hills of the Sula Mountains at an altitude of 549 m (1,801 ft) above sea level. Sonfon drains from its southern end, which forms the start of the Pampana River,[2] and is fed by seven small streams with its water level varying considerably during the year.[3] The Lake has a maximum depth of 8 m (26 ft) and with an area of 8.2 km2 (3.2 sq mi) is Sierra Leone's largest inland lake.[3][4]

Gold deposits are found in the rocks of Lake Sonfon and in alluvial deposits in the area. Only the alluvial deposits are being worked employing 15,000 miners around the Lake.[5][6] This mining is causing the level of water in the lake to decrease.[7]

Although the Sonfon is not well surveyed 105 species of birds have been identified at the lake including the iris glossy-starling, the Dybowski's twinspot, the splendid sunbird, the red-faced pytilia and the pied-winged swallow. Animals that live at the lake include endangered pygmy hippopotamus, black duikers and Maxwell's duikers.[8] In the dry season the lake is completely covered with vegetation.[3] The hill environment around the lake consist of forests, wooded savanah, grassland and farmbush.[8] The Lake is a key conservation area and a proposed protected area but as of 2011 there is no protection in place.[9]

Lake Sonfon is considered sacred in traditional belief with local people carrying out cultural ceremonies along its shore.[1][7] Offerings, including rice and food, are floated into the lake on calabashes.[10] In traditional belief the lake is symbolically intermittent, as well as being intermittent in terms of the amount of water in the dry season and a powerful Djinn lives in the lake.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Lake Sonfon and Environs". Visit Sierra Leone. 2011. Archived from the original on 9 January 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2011. 
  2. ^ "LOCATION AND PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF TONKOLILI DISTRICT". Tonkoli District Council. Retrieved 27 February 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Hughes, R. H.; J. S. Hughes (1992). A directory of African wetlands. IUCN. pp. 439–440. ISBN 978-2-88032-949-5. 
  4. ^ Hudgens, Jim; Richard Trillo (2003). The rough guide to West Africa. Rough Guides. p. 642. ISBN 978-1-84353-118-0. 
  5. ^ Valerio, Greg. "The authentic voice of the Fairmined Gold pioneer in Sierra Leone". EchoChic Magazine. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  6. ^ "AN OVERVIEW OF KEY MINERALS". Ministry of Mineral Resources. 21 January 2010. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Ham, Anthony; James Bainbridge (2006). West Africa. Lonely Planet. p. 753. ISBN 978-1-74059-771-5. 
  8. ^ a b "Lake Sonfon and environs". BirdLife International. 2001. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  9. ^ "Biodiversity Resource Endowment and Conservation". World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Jackson, Michael (2011). Life Within Limits:Well-being in a World of Want. Duke University Press. pp. 120–121. ISBN 978-0-8223-4915-0.