Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bandia Wildlife Reserve -Senegal

The Bandia Wildlife Reserve
Guest Blogger - Hilary Goldman . "A Year in Dakar" 
Up Close and Personal 

The closest we could get to the essence of a safari here in West Africa was the Bandia Wildlife Reserve. On one of our previous mini vacations to the Petite Cote - we had the opportunity to visit the reserve. The reserve is a much shorter distance from Toubab Dialaw (where we stayed at Auberge de la Plage),than it would be as a day trip from Dakar. 

 So as usual we find a local taxi man to arrange for the transport. Once in the park, the way it works is 
that  you can either opt for a larger open air 4x4 vehicle that is way more costly or stay in your taxi with the windows rolled down. Windows rolled down works for us! Either way you are required to take on a hired guide.

You can tell once you get started why it is required. One is safety as their goal is to get you close to the animals within reason (which we did!)  and two the taxi driver's job is to drive and listen to the guides directions on where to go. This way the guide can focus on spotting the animals and sharing his knowledge. Many of them speak not just French and Wolof but English too as they cater more to an ex-pat and European visitor. Admittedly, it was helpful to have our guide speak English to enjoy the finer details he had to share that we may  not have understood in French. 

Monkeys..t.l. Patas, b.r. Vervet
These guides really know the reserve and I think it's small enough to manage the roughly 2 hours needed to see everything. They work together as a team communicating where the animals are as they pass each other along the way  -  let's face it  - you do pay to see the animals !!


A little history from their website.
Ostriches and Abyssinian Roller

The Bandia reserve was established in 1990 on an economically exploited and markedly degraded baobab grove. In that year 460 ha were enclosed, later this was expanded to 750 ha and it is still expanding. The first stage of conservation was aimed at regenerating the damaged vegeta­tion and after that it was introducing the first animals. Introducing wild animals be­gan slowly in 1991 and reached its peak in January 1997 with the arrival of un­gulates from South Africa. Today a visitor to the 750 ha territory of Bandia can see 22 various species of African animals, of which 11 come directly from Sene­gal, the others coming from South Africa.

Today the Bandia wildlife makes up a total of 3,500 hectares of which about 1/3 of it is currently available for the animals to roam. They continue to either open up new sections of the park and redirect animals to move to those new sections while they close other sections for regeneration. Or as they introduce more animals they expand the perimeter of the park.

Parker and Addison had been to the reserve with their class earlier in the year so at first they seemed quite disinterested in returning except perhaps to try and feed the Green Vervet monkeys. Of which I preferred they not add to the monkeys already domesticated habits.
Wart Hog
Once we got rocking and rolling and spotted our first animal - interest on their part picked up again! Of course our first warthog sighting and I'm thinking "Phacochere, Phacochere" - our guide from Djoudj who got so excited about spotting them. Now that he's been spotted and out of the way - we can get on with the show. And what a show it was!!

 The White Rhinoceros......Why White? 

White Rhinoceros
From wikipedia - A popular theory of the origins of the name "white rhinoceros" is a mistranslation from Dutch to English. The English word "white" is said to have been derived by mistranslation of the Dutch word "wijd", which means "wide" in English. The word "wide" refers to the width of the rhinoceros' mouth. So early English-speaking settlers in South Africa misinterpreted the "wijd" for "white" and the rhino with the wide mouth ended up being called the white rhino (with nothing"white" about him or her!) 

Baobab Tree
Along with the animals we were shown an ancient Baobab tree within the reserve that marks the resting place for the human remains of celebrated local griots - storytellers - and burial mounds. 

My Husband, Taxi Driver and the Twins...
A completely memorable day had by all - including our taxi driver - as a Senegalese who had not been here nor likely could afford to come - it was a special treat for him - including his ice cream! (Please visit original posting "Up Close and Personal" for more and better pictures) 

Guest Blogger - Hilary Goldman . "A Year in Dakar" along with her husband and twin sons moved to Dakar Senegal for a year sabbatical. She gives a lot of practical advise about moving and living and experiencing Senegal from a different American point of view. The reason why I was attracted to her blog is because I have found her effort and interest to integrate as she describes it with the Senegalese culture, people and language so inviting. While Hilary and husband did voluntary work...the boys went to a local French/Senegalese school. Best of all the family has explored Senegal by means of walking, taxi, car rapide, dem dikk and sept-place because they don't have a car. They also hope to take the boat to Casamance before their year is up. The blog documents their travels in and around Dakar and to Saint Louis, Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary, Guembeul Nature Reserve and the Accro-Baobab Park to name just a few of the places visited.


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