West African manatee

Thought to be the goddess of the sea known as “Maame Water” in many coastal legends of western Africa

Cloaked in a layer of small, colorless hair, their skin is primarily grey but can take on a greenish or brown hue due to algae and other microorganisms that grow on their bodies. This unique feature not only adds to their distinctive appearance but also serves as a subtle camouflage, blending them into their aquatic environments.

The body of the West African manatee is robust, with the widest point located around the middle, tapering towards both ends. This streamlined shape is perfectly adapted for life in the water, enabling them to glide gracefully through their aquatic habitat. Their paddle-like tails serve as powerful propulsion tools that allow them to navigate the rivers and coastal waters they call home. Additionally, their front limbs have evolved into flippers that are used for movement and play a crucial role in their feeding habits, as they can manipulate food and guide it to their mouths.

Diet-wise, the West African manatee exhibits omnivorous tendencies, feeding on a wide variety of aquatic plants, mollusks, small fishes, and clams. This diverse diet is crucial for their survival, ensuring they receive the necessary nutrients for growth and energy. In estuarine environments, where saltwater meets freshwater, some manatees have been observed to feed exclusively on mangrove trees, showcasing their adaptability to different food sources available in their habitats. Remarkably, these manatees can consume approximately 4 to 9% of their body weight in aquatic vegetation each day, relying on their molars to chew and process their meals. These molars are the only teeth they possess, specifically adapted for grinding down tough plant materials.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Angola
2015
Benin
2015
Cameroon
2015
Chad
2015
Congo-Brazzaville
2015
Côte D’ivoire
2015
DR Congo (Kinshasa)
2015
Equatorial Guinea
2015
Gabon
2015
Gambia
2015
Ghana
2015
Guinea-Bissau
2015
Guinea
2015
Liberia
2015
Mali
2015
Mauritania
2015
Niger
2015
Nigeria
2015
Senegal
2015
Sierra Leone
2015
Togo
2015

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Group

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No