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Location Guinea-Bissau, Bolama
Central coordinates 16o 0.00' West  11o 15.00' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii
Area 142,915 ha
Altitude 0 - 34m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Site description The Arquipélago dos Bijagós is composed of 88 islands and a large intertidal area of mudflat and mangrove. Some 20 of the islands are permanently inhabited as, seasonally, are a further 20. The archipelago is situated just off the coast, opposite the mouth of the Rio Gêba. The land area of the archipelago is some 90,000 ha while a further 100,000 ha or so are uncovered twice daily by the retreating tide, of which 76,000 ha are mudflats and 35,000 ha mangroves. The Ilhas de Orango National Park includes the most southerly group of islands, of which the main ones are Orango, Canogo, Imbone, Meneque and Orangozinho, which have a land area of 27,000 ha. The boundary of the park extends to 10 km offshore and the park includes forest, coastal wooded savanna, mangroves (17,400 ha), channels and shallow seas. The João Vieira / Poilão Marine National Park includes four small islands in the south-east of the archipelago and a large area (495 km²) of ocean (mostly excluded from the IBA). Although part of the Biosphere Reserve, the Ilha de Bolama, the island nearest the mainland, is excluded since it forms part of IBA GW005, for the reasons given in the description of that site.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
African Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus breeding  1994  742 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
African Spoonbill Platalea alba breeding  1992  1,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis winter  1992  50,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Egretta garzetta breeding  1994  553 breeding pairs  A4i  Not Recognised 
Egretta gularis breeding  1994  870 breeding pairs  A4i  Not Recognised 
Egretta gularis winter  1992  1,800 individuals  A4i  Not Recognised 
Black-crowned Night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax breeding  1994  168 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides breeding  1994  318 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Great White Egret Ardea alba breeding  1994  925 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Black Heron Egretta ardesiaca winter  1992  2,200 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Charadrius alexandrinus winter  9,100 individuals  A4i  Not Recognised 
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola winter  39,100 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula winter  26,300 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Common Redshank Tringa totanus winter  70,400 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica winter  115,800 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus winter  22,100 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata winter  9,300 individuals  A4i  Near Threatened 
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres winter  10,800 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Red Knot Calidris canutus winter  90,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Sanderling Calidris alba winter  24,300 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Little Stint Calidris minuta winter  102,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea winter  326,500 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Sterna nilotica winter  10,000 individuals  A4i  Not Recognised 
Grey-headed Gull Larus cirrocephalus breeding  1994  800 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei breeding  170 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia breeding  1,330 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus breeding  1994  7,600 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Black Tern Chlidonias niger winter  1992  2,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  500,000-999,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Bolama - Bijagós UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve 101,230 protected area overlaps with site 71,230  
Joao Vieira-Poilao Islands Marine National Park 49,500 protected area contained by site 49,500  
Orango National Park 158,235 protected area overlaps with site 26,800  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   3%
Unknown   2%
Shrubland   2%
Savanna   8%
Forest   84%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
fisheries/aquaculture -
nature conservation and research -

Other biodiversity Five species of turtle breed in the archipelago; Chelonia mydas (EN), Caretta caretta (EN), Lepidochelys olivacea (EN), Eretmochelys imbricata (CR) and Dermochelys coriacea (EN). The Ilhéu do Poilão is the main nesting area for C. mydas in the eastern Atlantic. Ilha João Vieira and Ilha Orango are also important nesting sites. The largest Trichechus senegalensis (VU) population in West Africa is found here. The crocodile Osteolaemus tetrapsis (VU) also occurs while the dolphins Sousa teuszii (DD) and Tursiops truncatus (DD) are common. Mangrove species include the rare Laguncularia racemosa.

References Altenburg et al. (1992), Asbirk et al. (1994), Maretti and Sales (1994), Quadé (1994).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Arquipélago dos Bijagós. Downloaded from on 24/10/2014

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