Animals in Gueoul

Animals in Gueoul

In the American neighborhoods, the most commonly seen animals are probably domesticated dogs and cats, wild birds, and small rodents like squirrels and rabbits. Raccoons might be on the second tier.

Here in Gueoul, the most commonly seen animals at this time of year are sheep, goats, horses, donkeys, and wild birds (in no particular order). The runners up are probably chickens, cats, and the occasional dog.

Just in case U.S. customs is reading this: no, I have not come in close contact with any of these animals. They are just around, and there are enough of them that I do not think it is possible to come to Senegal without seeing some.

Sheep are about to get much scarcer on August 22nd, the Tabaski holiday this year. It is the biggest holiday in Senegal, and every family that can afford one buys and slaughters a sheep. A fellow volunteer noted that it is not uncommon to spot a random sheep leg or hoof here or there in the street in the days following Tabaski.

The sheep and the goats can be difficult to tell apart, so I will end this post by giving some telltale signs.

The sheep are larger, and their heads have a complete convex curve from cranium to the tip of the snout, sort of like a sideways J. The males have horns that tend to flatten or curve to the side. All the sheep say "baa", just like you would expect, although most of the time they go about their business quietly. Here is a sheep:


On the other hand, the goats are smaller, and their heads include a concave, sideways S-shaped curve from cranium to snout. Their horns are smaller and grow mostly vertically, with a backward curve when they get long. Here is a goat:


You might be wondering, are there lions? Not in Gueoul, but lions do live in Senegal's Niokolo-Koba National Park.