Niokolo-Koba National Park and Simenti
The Niokolo Koba National Park is situated in south-eastern Senegal (map lower left). With a size of more than 9000 km² it is one of the largest national parks of West Africa. Founded in 1954, it was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1981, and was added to the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger in 2007. Approximately 350 different bird species and about 80 mammals including 6 primate species can be found in the park. In addition to Guinea baboons, the park hosts chimpanzees, green monkeys, patas monkeys, Temminck’s colobus monkeys as well as Galagos.
The average annual rainfall, concentrated in the rainy season from July till October, is 1000-1100mm. Vegetation varies from a southern Sudanian to Guinean type with predominant savannah, more luxuriant vegetation along the courses of the rivers and a varying cover of trees and bushes. This vegetation changes its character according to topography and soils. The park is located at the centre of the north-south Guinea baboon range.
The CRP Simenti field site is located on the premises of the Poste de Garde Simenti (map lower right), one of several park-ranger camps distributed around the national park. Simenti is situated between the Gambia river and the Mare de Simenti, a seasonal swamp that regularly attracts local wildlife.
We share the camp with the PNNK rangers and several local people who help with park and camp activities. A cook is present at the site and is paid to cook for both the local and the project staff. While being immersed in the middle of wildlife and not close to main roads or local villages, life in Simenti does allow sharing a lot of the lifestyle of the local people, including meals and spending social time together. At the same time, it sets demands on your lifestyle to some degree as good contact relies on socializing with the other inhabitants and adapting to the local customs (see Some basic rules for life in Simenti).
The closest village - Darsalam - is situated at the parc entrance, and can be reached in 1-1.5 hours depending on the road condition and season. Tambacounda (also called Tamba) is the closest city, approximately 3 hours from Simenti (map above right).