Niokolo-Koba National Park
The Niokolo-Koba National Park on the banks of the Gambia river is known for its wildlife. This includes elephants, lions, leopards, chimpanzees, baboons, hippopotamuses and the Western giant eland. Around 330 species of birds have been sighted in the park.
Most of the park consists of relatively flat woodland savannah and semi-arid Sudanese forest, with large areas of wooded wetlands and seasonal wetlands. The park contains over 1500 species of plants and 78% of the gallery forest in Senegal.
The site has been under threat for long from poaching and encroachment of human population and wandering livestock. Other threats are the proposed Sambangalou dam and a large basalt quarry. The numbers of large mammals have dropped to under 900 (UNESCO 2007).
Map of Niokolo-Koba National Park
Niokolokoba is a great reserve, I did'nt expect such a great range of species in Senegal. I have visited Simenti twice with West African Tours travelling from The Gambia once in 2006 and then again in 2008. On our second visit the species list included Leopard, Roan Antelope, Hippopotamus,Kob, Oribi, Waterbuck, Ground Hornbill, Black Crowned Crane, Saddle-billed Stork and Lion. We missed Hunting Dog and Chimpanzee (but we found fresh nests).
This park is a short / cheap flight from the UK and has great wildlife, some interesting villages and Simenti makes a great base.
Four years ago I visited Niokolo and the Hotel Simenti. I thought the place was paradise and since then have done a lot of investigation. Ther is so much that needs doing that I have negotiated to be involved with the Hotel and with the Park, and it is my intention to get as much funding from all sources, and to invite university studies into the area so that there will be coordination directly with the Senegal Government, through me, to get the best back into the Park.
It will become a major project and could well turn the fortunes of the Park, Environment and the local population.
I would welcome all input and ideas and there may even be a chance of private investment.
------------update june 2004----------------
It started in 2000, when I visited Niokolo Koba and at that time, Hotel Simenti was run down. I thought then, that it was a place of paradise, as a retreat from all the pressures of life, and concentrate the mind on things natural, and things that actually mattered. A place to get away from all the material things, together with the Western pressures of having to buy material things.
It made such an impression upon me, that I sought to become involved with the Hotel, and be happy to live in paradise, instead of just visiting, but moreover, to be able to put something into the Hotel and its¡¦ surroundings.
I made contact with Senator Amadou Thiam. With his help, agreement was made with the owner of the Hotel, for me to be Manager. This will commence during 2004.
At Christmas 2003, I visited the Hotel and formalised the agreement with the owner, Monsieur Gueye. At the same time it became apparent that, because of the location
of the Hotel, there was also a need to become involved with Niokolo Koba as well. There needs to be a coexistence, and a person to coordinate the Simenti area of the Park.
As a result of this I went to Dakar where I met with the aide to the President and subsequently with the Minister of the Environment and his aide, along with Senator Thiam.
It was outlined that we would attempt to get International funding for various projects, but at base level I would have to start from scratch, and try to involve the local villages in whatever I seek to do. This would have been my aim in any case, and this can start immediately, with making traditional craft furniture and screens, and sewing traditional textiles for use in the Hotel. It is also my intention to start farming an area of land to supply the Hotel with fresh food and to use the surplus for local consumption.
Aims for Senegal.
„« To attract and coordinate International Agencies to sustain and develop the Reserve and ultimately to reintroduce species previously killed to extinction.
„« To develop skills in local villages through training and with a view to employment within the Reserve.
„« To cultivate land with a range of market garden crops, for the use of International Visitors to the Reserve, through Hotels, and to allow the use of excess by the local population.
„« To GPS map the Reserve, with an aim to record sightings of species within the Reserve, through Agencies, Universities and touring visitors.
„« To promote and coordinate visits of school children, from the villages bordering the Reserve, and teaching them of the species and biosphere, and the importance of what they live near to. When they are adult they might appreciate why the Reserve needs protection.
„« To work with Ministers of the Government of Senegal alongside NGOs, with the promise to do all I can to benefit Senegal and its peoples.
Aims for the Hotel.
„« The overall aim is to make the Hotel traditional and environmentally friendly with the Park and ¡§melt¡¨ the Hotel into its¡¦ surrounding environment.
„« To bring the Hotel to a better standard internally, to attract environmentally aware visitors.
„« To build an ¡§executive¡¨ roundhouse accomodation to attract Senegal Government and International Government Officials.
„« To allow villagers to produce items required at the Hotel and to instigate training to help them with a skill, of which there can be many.
„« To form a study centre, based in the Hotel grounds. The studies can include the flora and fauna and ornithology of the area, along with music and traditional arts.
„« To coordinate outside transport companies, (rail and flight), to facilitate easier travel for tourists and locals.
When there is a basis in place for all the above, International NGO¡¦s will be approached to try to make this area of Senegal, both the Park and the surrounds, beneficial to every inhabitant, both human and otherwise, to every visitor, but above all beneficial to the rest of Senegal, the Planet and its future.
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