The Gembuel Faune Reserve is one of the best places in the world to spot some of the most threatened mammal species that inhabit the Sahara and the Sahel area: damma oryx, dama gazelle, dorcas gazelle and Addax.These species have been reintroduced in the wild here.The reserve is also a good site for birding, with more than 200 species of birds: flamingoes, black-tailed godwit, European spoonbill, slender-billed gull, little stint and pied avocets among others.
This small reserve is located about 10 km from Saint Louis.I rented a taxi to get there due that there is no public transportation.The trip took about 30 minutes.The entrance fee was about 2 euros and a park guide costed about 6 euros.Once there you can see some animals in small enclosures near the entrance.
I went with a guide along a small trail that leads to the lake.Along the way we saw a warthog and a few individuals of gazelle’s dorcas.They were quite shy and difficult to capture in a shot.Once we arrived in the swamp area we saw the first individuals of oryx damma.
This species was more gregarious that gazelle dorcas, and we saw them in groups of 5 to 10 individuals.This species seemed to be a bit easier to approach and this allowed me to take some good shots.
Oryx Damma are very sociable and can travel in herds of up to 40 individuals.They eat mainly grass, foliage, shrubs and succulent plants.They are adapted to desert and semi-desert areas by a metabolism that enables them to function in high temperatures, without sweating.They can cool down the blood when it passes through the nasal passage before reaching the brain.Other animals like foxes and hares that live in the desert are adapted in a similar fashion by cooling their blood when circulating along their long ears and legs.
Oryx Damma,or Scimitar Oryx, was once widespread in the Sahara Desert and semi-desert areas of the Sahel.Chad and Niger used to concentrate large herds.Unfortunately, this species was hunted almost to extinction mainly for its horns and meat.Unfortunately, only very few individuals survive in Chad and Niger and some have recently been reintroduced in Tunisia, Morocco and Senegal.
Patas Monkey was another mammal that i could get close views. A small herd appeared near the lake.They were quite active running and feeding on grass and fruits on the ground.
This terrestrial species of monkey is found widespread in the Sahel zone, although in low densities.Its main habitats are grasslands and woodlands.They feed on grasses, seeds, fruits, berries and beans. They are very sociable,usually in groups of about 15 individuals.
Although my main purpose here was to see mammals, some birds caught my attention.I got great views of an African Grey hornbill perched on a tree and of a Namaqua Dove that i spotted near the trail.
An African Spur Tortoise walking near the lake was the icing on the cake ! This species of tortoise is native in the Sahara and the Sahel and its status is considered vulnerable.
The trail continue around the lake but i didn’t explore farther.Anyway, i spent a half day in this beautiful and quiet place and i got great views of some of the animals that i was looking for.
Next stop Toubacouta, a little town that i use as a base to explore the Delta du Saloum NP.See you soon my friends !!