The Republic of Sierra Leone is a fairly small country on the western edge of Africa. Sierra Leone shares borders with Guinea and Liberia, and its west and southwest boundary are defined by the North Atlantic Ocean. Sierra Leone covers 29,925 square miles, making it just a bit smaller than the state of South Carolina. In addition to 5.7 million humans (as of 2009), Sierra Leone is home to a large number of animal species, some of whom are unique to the region.
Sierra Leone's coastline is mostly mangrove swamps, beaches and shallow bays, hilly forestland further inland and plateau and mountains to the north and east. The climate is tropical. The estimated 147 species of mammals living wild in Sierra Leone include lions, African elephants
, Cape buffalos and giant hippopotamuses. Among the types of wildlife unique to Sierra Leone are four kinds of killifish
, a few varieties of catfish
including electric catfish
, the Freetown Long-fingered Frog, the Tingi Hills Toad, multiple species of butterfly and a ground beetle. Pygmy hippos are found wild only in Sierra Leone and neighboring Liberia. Pygmy hippos are an endangered species that lives in tropical forests habitats in the Gola Forest and on islands in the Moa River.
Some primates native to Sierra Leone are the bushbaby, Diana money, chimpanzee and king colobus
. There are a number of other monkey species present as well. Bats, birds and insects abound, as can be expected in a tropical climate. Sierra Leone also harbors plenty of mice, squirrels, gerbils, rats and porcupines. Three types of pangolin (scaly anteater) and aardvarks
also make their home in Sierra Leone. The waters off the coast of Sierra Leone nurture three species of dolphin, pygmy killer whales
and the African manatee
. Lions, leopards, hyenas, Servals
, panther genets
, African wild dogs
, African civets
and five species of mongoose are among Sierra Leone's predator population. Eight species of duiker, the bongo, water chevrotain
are a few of the hoofed mammals found in and near Sierra Leone's forests.