International Journal of Livestock Production
Subscribe to IJLP
Full Name*
Email Address*

Article Number - 10C88D063921

Vol.8(5), pp. 57-66 , May 2017
ISSN: 2141-2448

 Total Views: 0
 Downloaded: 0


History, status and use of equines in the West African Republic of Gambia

R. Trevor Wilson
  • R. Trevor Wilson
  • Bartridge Partners, Bartridge House, Umberleigh, EX37 9AS, UK.
  • Google Scholar

 Received: 24 November 2016  Accepted: 10 April 2017  Published: 31 May 2017

Copyright © 2017 Author(s) retain the copyright of this article.
This article is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0

Gambia is the smallest country on the African mainland and is one of the poorest. Agriculture contributes about 23.6% of the national Gross Domestic Product, mainly from crop production.  Cattle are the most important livestock species and oxen originally provided most of the draught power. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, horses were traded by the Portuguese with local inhabitants for slaves and then used by the latter as cavalry in local wars. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, equines were of little importance. From the mid twentieth century, however, both horses and donkeys rapidly increased in numbers and became the main providers of animal traction for agricultural work and general transport. Trypanosomosis is the main disease but other diseases also constrain the output of equines. Management of the equine resource is poor in terms of nutrition, health and housing. Poor welfare is also a major problem but there are some attempts by a local charity to improve this through provision of basic services and training of farmers and veterinary personnel.


Key words: War horses, animal traction, donkey, horse, trypanosomosis.

CIA (2016). The Gambia: The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, DC.


Colonial Secretary (1909). Correspondence of the Colonial Secretary, Reference Nos. 2/140 2/143. Gambian National Archives, Banjul, The Gambia.


da Cadamosto A (1937). The Voyage of Cadamosto. p. 68. In: The Voyages of Cadamosto and Other Documents in Western Africa in the Second Half of the Fifteenth Century. (Crone GR ed.), Hakluyt Society, London.


Dhollander S, Jallow A, Mbodge K, Kora S, Sanneh M, Gaye M, Bos J, Leak S, Berkvens D, Geerts S (2006). Equine Trypanosomosis in the Central River Division of The Gambia: a Study of Veterinary Gate-clinic Consultation Records. Prev. Vet. Med. 75:152-162.


Dugué P, Dongmo AL (2004). Traction animale et association agriculture élevage dans les savanes d'Afrique de l'ouest et du centre. D'un modèle techniciste à une démarche d'intégration raisonnée à différentes échelles. [Animal draught power and the linkage between agriculture and livestock in the West and Central African savannas: from a technical approach to the beginnings of rational integration at various levels]. Rev. Elev. Méd. Vét. Pays Trop. 57:157-165.


Dunsmore JR, Blair RA, Lowe GDN, Moffat DJ, Anderson IP, Williams JB (1976). The Agricultural Development of The Gambia: An Agricultural, Environmental and Socioeconomic Analysis. Land Resources Study 22. Land Resources Division -- Overseas Development Administration, London, UK.


Elbl I (1991). The Horse in Fifteenth Century Senegambia. Int. J. Afr. Hist. Stud. 24:85-110.


FAO (2014). Statistical Yearbook, 2014. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome.


Faye D, Pereira de Almeida PJL, Goossens B, Osaer S, Ndao B, Berkvens D, Speybroeck N, Nieberding F, Geerts S (2001). Prevalence and Incidence of Trypanosomosis in Horses and Donkeys in The Gambia. Vet. Parasitol. 101:101-114.


Gaastra W, Lipman LJ, De Cock AW, Exel TK, Pegge RB, Scheurwater J, Vilela R, Mendoza L (2010). Pythium insidiosum: An Overview. Vet. Microbiol. 146:1-16.


GHDT (2014). Cases from The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust, Dec'13 - May'14. Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust, Banjul, The Gambia. 


Gomes D (1937). The Voyages of Diogo Gomes. In: The Voyages of Cadamosto and Other Documents in Western Africa in the Second Half of the Fifteenth Century. (Crone GR ed.), Hakluyt Society, London. pp 99-101.


ITC (n.d.). R & D; Draught Animal Power. International Trypanotolerance Centre, Banjul, The Gambia. 


Law R (1980). The Horse in West Africa: The Role of the Horse in the Societies of Pre-colonial West Africa. Oxford University Press, Oxford. pp. 52-53.


Mattioli RC, Zinsstag J, Pfister K (1992). African Horse Sickness and Equine Infectious Anaemia Serology in The Gambia. Trop. Anim. Health Prod. 24:207-208.


Mattioli RC, Zinsstag J, Pfister K (1993). Frequency of Trypanosomosis and Gastrointestinal Parasites in Draught Donkeys in The Gambia in Relation to Animal Husbandry. Trop. Anim. Health Prod. 26:102-108.


Mellhuish J (2011). Investigating Babesiosis in Working Equids of The Gambia. Royal Veterinary College, London (Mimeo). 


Oura CA, Ivens PA, Bachanek-Bankowska K, Bin-Tarif A, Jallow DB, Sailleau C, Maan S, Mertens PC, Batten CA (2012). African horse sickness in The Gambia: circulation of a live-attenuated vaccine-derived strain. Epidemiol. Infect. 140:462-465.


Park M (1799). Travels in the interior districts of Africa. Performed under the direction and patronage of the African Association, in the years 1795, 1796 and 1797 with an Appendix containing geographical illustrations of Africa by Major Rennell. Bulmer & Co, Ltd, London.


Pinchbeck GL, Morrison LJ, Tait A, Langford J, Meehan L, Jallow S, Jallow J, Jallow A, Christley R. M (2008). Trypanosomosis in The Gambia: prevalence in working horses and donkeys detected by whole genome amplification and PCR, and evidence for interactions between trypanosome species. BMC Vet. Res. 20(4):7.


Rawlings P, Snow WF, Boorman J, Denison E, Hamblin C, Mellor PS (1998). Culicoides in Relation to Transmission of African Horse Sickness Virus in The Gambia. Med. Vet. Entomol. 12:155-159.


Riddle JM (2008). A History of the Middle Ages, 300-1500. Rowman & Littlefield, London.


Sowe JM, Reed JD (1993). The Extent of Draught Cow Use in the North Bank Division of The Gambia. In: Recherche Pour Le Développement de la Traction Animale en Afrique de L'Ouest. (Lawrence P, Lawrence K, Dijkman J, Starkey PH eds.). West Africa Animal Traction Network, International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya. pp. 273-275.


Sowe J, Gai B, Sumberg J, Gilbert E (1988). Foaling and mortality of equines in The Gambia: a national survey. In: Animal Traction for Agricultural Development. (Starkey P, Faye A eds.), Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, Wageningen, The Netherlands. pp. 315-323.


Starkey P (1986). Strengthening Animal Traction Research and Development in The Gambia through Networking. Consultancy Report 12. Gambian Agricultural Research and Diversification Project - Ministry of Agriculture, Banjul, The Gambia.


Sumberg J, Gilbert E (1988). Draft Animals and Crop Production in The Gambia. Department of Livestock Services, Banjul, The Gambia.


UNSD (2015). World Statistics Pocketbook. United Nations Statistics Division, New York.



APA Wilson, R. T. (2017). History, status and use of equines in the West African Republic of Gambia. International Journal of Livestock Production, 8(5), 57-66.
Chicago R. Trevor Wilson. "History, status and use of equines in the West African Republic of Gambia." International Journal of Livestock Production 8, no. 5 (2017): 57-66.
MLA R. Trevor Wilson. "History, status and use of equines in the West African Republic of Gambia." International Journal of Livestock Production 8.5 (2017): 57-66.

Subscription Form