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Location Sierra Leone, Western Area
Central coordinates 13o 3.00' West  8o 37.00' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii
Area 295,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 75m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Conservation Society of Sierra Leone

Site description This site is the drowned estuary of the Rokel or Seli river. It is bounded to the north by a coastal plain indented by creeks, and to the south by the mountainous Western Area peninsula. At the point of entry into the Atlantic Ocean, the estuary widens to about 11 km and abruptly deepens along its southern shore to form a natural harbour (the third-largest in the world). The estuary is lined by 110 ha of mud and sand foreshore, backed by mangrove, and 1,800 ha of intertidal mudflat and muddy sandflats. The predominant mangrove tree species are Rhizophora sp., Avicennia africana, Laguncularia sp. and Conocarpus sp., and these cover a total of 34,234 ha (19% of the total area of mangrove in Sierra Leone).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Great White Egret Ardea alba winter  500 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Charadrius alexandrinus winter  2,100 individuals  A4i  Not Recognised 
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola winter  2,300 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula winter  8,600 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Common Redshank Tringa totanus winter  4,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Sanderling Calidris alba winter  2,900 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea winter  9,500 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  20,000-49,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Sierra Leone River Estuary Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 295,000 is identical to site 295,000  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland) Coastal lagoons; Estuarine waters; Intertidal mud, sand or salt flats; Mangroves; Rivers & streams; Sand dunes and beaches - riverine  8%
Artificial - terrestrial   2%
Forest   90%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
fisheries/aquaculture -
urban/industrial/transport -

Other biodiversity None known to BirdLife International.

References Schwarz (1992), Taylor and Rose (1994), Tye and Tye (1987).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sierra Leone River Estuary. Downloaded from on 23/09/2014

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