The proposed plan to bulldoze Monkey Park, the only natural habitat for different animal species along Gambia’s coastline has been cancelled, the environment minister has confirmed to Kerr Fatou.
“The decision has been reconsidered… The Monkey Park is staying,” Lamin Dibba, environment and wildlife minister, told Kerr Fatou on Saturday.
Credible sources close to the presidency has informed this medium that the country’s seat of power will on Monday issue a statement on the reconsideration of their decision.
President Adama Barrow has caused outrage among environmental activists following his decision to de-reserved Monkey Park for the construction of a hotel, shopping mall and a presidential villa in preparation for the November 2019 summit of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
The park was to be relocated to Pirang, a village about 20 minutes drive from Banjul.
Meanwhile, a local environmental movement, Green Up Gambia, and a number of Gambian activists have gathered at the park on Saturday morning to raise awareness on the importance of the ecology to the country.
A number of paramilitary police have attempted to dispersed the crowd but they later withdrew after the resistance from activists.
The police claimed they have orders to disperse the crowd but have not say from who.
Their presence haven’t affected the meeting of the activists who later went on a tour around the park.
The event was attended by tens of Gambian activists including Madi Jobarteh, executive director of association of Gambian NGOs, TANGO.
“We talked about why we need to mobilise ourselves to help in not just keeping this park but also regenerating it,” Jobarteh said.
Prominent Gambian academics Dr Ismail Ceesay was in attendance.
The pro-environmental movement, Green Up Gambia, has put up posters at the entrance of the park calling people to stop the “senseless act”.
Established in 1951, the park covered an area of 51.3 hectares comprising primarily of a closed canopy forest with a significant number of rhun palms, and with a relatively thin strip of herbaceous dune vegetation.
The rainforest is home to various invertebrates, reptiles and mammalian species. Among the primates are troops of Green Vervet Monkeys, Western Red Colobus Monkeys, Senegal Bushbabies (Gulagos), Callithrix Monkey, Campbell’s Mona Monkey and Patas.
Over 133 bird species have been recorded there with various hornbills, pheasants, cuckoos, sunbirds, starlings, weavers, waxbills, eagles and hawks.
Some other recorded species are the Black-necked Weaver, Red-billed Hornbill, Greater Honeyguide and Green-backed Eremomela.
Already about 7 hectares of the park had been bulldozed for the construction of a conference center for the OIC summit.
By Mustapha K Darboe