Yawri Bay has rich tidal mudflats and mangroves, which are home to tens of thousands of birds for a third of the year. It supports a major local fishing industry.
Location of Yawri Bay
Found on the southwestern coast of Sierra Leone, this bay is about 60km southeast of Freetown. It is bounded by the Ribbi, Bumpe and Kagboro Chiefdoms of the Moyamba District, Southern Province and the southern coast of the Western Area Peninsula. The Yawri Bay is a shallow coastal wetland with a 9,100 ha expanse of intertidal mudflats that extends along 60 km of foreshore. The mudflats are backed primarily by mangrove swamp interlaced with a network of creeks stretching to 24,505 ha. It accounts for 14.3% of the total mangrove swamp in Sierra Leone (Chong, 1987).
Three rivers, Ribbi, Bumpe and Kagboro, each with its own estuary, flow into the Yawri Bay. The bay’s topography and location shelters it from the force of river flow and strong marine currents. It is therefore a suitable spawning and nursery ground for fish, which is one of the county’s most important marine resources. Mean annual rainfall is about 3,554mm. Temperature varies little with season; the mean daily range is 22-31 0C in the dry season and 23-27 0C in the rainy season. Relative humidity at 1500h runs between 60% and 80% annually.
TernsForty-six species of Palaearctic migrant birds are known to occur in the bay. Four of these species – Avocet, Lesser-crested Tern, Water Dikkop and the near-threatened Damara tern were first recorded for Sierra Leone at this site. The presence of the latter species has increased the conservation significance of the bay since this is now the westernmost record of the species in Africa. Most of the less common Palaearctic migrant waders found in the Sierra Leone River estuary also occur at this bay. An African Waterfowl Census (1994), covering about 60% of the bay recorded 15,070 waterbirds including 5000 Knots. The largest concentrations occur in the southern sector of the bay in the region of Kagboro creek, with major roost counts of cormorants and herons. Both Tye and Tye (1987) and Thompson and Wood (1991) estimated the bay to hold over 20,000 waders.
Mammals and other fauna
No survey on mammals has been carried out but there is evidence of the presence of the threatened African Manatee (Schwarz, 1992). Three species of game mammals inhabit the coastal forest including Maxwell Duiker (NT). Three species of marine turtles occur; Green, Loggerhead and Olive Riddle.
Access and Facilities
The northern end of the bay is easily accessible via a newly constructed highway from Freetown. Rotifunk and Moyamba, 40 km and 60 km to the east respectively are the nearest big towns. The bay has relatively prosperous fishing companies especially at Tombo and Shenge, which supply most of the fish consumed in Freetown. There is also a viable local salt industry in the area. These activities provide employment opportunities for the local inhabitants. The bay also has great potential for ecotourism if carefully developed and managed.
Information provided courtesy of the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone