Due to growing awareness about the importance of conservation and what remained of our flora and fauna, the Wildlife Conservation Unit was upgraded into a government department (Wildlife Conservation Department) in 1977. The name of the Department was changed in 1994 to the Department of Parks & Wildlife Management (DPWM) to reflect its widening role into wildlife management as well as conservation.
The Banjul Declaration and Wildlife conservation Act of 1977, the Wildlife/Biodiversity Policy and Act of 2003 and the recently prepared Wildlife conservation Bill and policy are all measures taken to protect wildlife of the Gambia. These pieces of legislations also govern the setting up of:
- Protected Areas
- Regulate and monitor hunting
- Prohibition of the sale of wild animals and;
- Strict control on the import and export of wild animals
Currently there are 22 wildlife Protected Areas, occupying a total area of 76,064 hectares, approximately 6.4% of Gambia's total surface area. Only 0.16% of the terrestrial and inland water is protected while 7.4% of the marine and coastal areas are under formal protection with the goal being set to increase this area to 10% by 2015.
Eight of these Protected Areas are reserves and national parks while 14 are community based conservation areas under the mandate of the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPWM).
This Department serves as the focal institute for several biodiversity/conservation related international treaties and agreements such as Conventional on Biological Diversity (CBD), Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar), Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS), Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) among others.