This site, characterized by lakes, tidal creeks and ponds linked by a network of channels in the Senegal River Floodplain, was designated as a Ramsar site as it fulfilled Criteria 1 and 3, is a unique example of a near-natural wetland type, and is recognized as supporting populations of flora and fauna important for the maintenance of the region’s biodiversity.
The main challenge leading to the inclusion of the Parc National des Oiseaux du Djoudj on the Montreux Record was due to the infestations of Salvinia molesta, Pistia stratiotes and Paspalum vaginatum. However, several other threats faced this site since its inclusion on the Ramsar List – these included the continual alluvial deposits leading to a notable decrease in the water level within the channels, leading to the artificial regulation of the water levels and water softening, further encouraging infestation of the channels by invasive alien species.
In response to the problems being faced by the site, which threatened not only the biodiversity supported there but the sustainability of the income generating activities of the local communities (rice cultivation, livestock rearing, hunting, nature conservation and tourism) as well, the following actions were taken in response to a Ramsar Advisory Mission jointly organized in 2000 by Ramsar, World Heritage, and IUCN:
1. Capacity building: Restructure of personnel working in the park through elaboration and application of Terms of Reference for each position, allowing for clear delineation of roles and functions of ecoguides and ecoguards. They underwent training sessions financed by FSP Senegal to improve their technical capacity in terms of management of the site and assistance to tourists, thereby raising the income earned.
2. Development of an action plan: Financed by UNESCO World Heritage Convention, this allowed for a detailed breakdown of the necessary steps to be taken in the fight against the invasive alien species, one of the first of which was a means to measure the water levels.
3. Restoration: Financed by the government of the Netherlands, restoration of nesting areas (4000 m²) and reinforcement of the banks through the use of riprap (rocks to armor the banks against erosion).
4. Biological control: Through the artificial management of the water levels and use of beetles specialized in control of the invasive alien species found within the site.
Following these actions numerous improvements were noted, especially the increase in numbers of White-faced Whistling-duck (Dendrocygna viduata) and Knob-billed duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos) found within the park (comparison of studies conducted in 1989 and 2008) due to an improved supply of resources for their nourishment. A complete analysis of the species now present within the site will be conducted during a workshop to be held in November 2009.
This workshop to determine what measures are necessary to ensure that a situation threatening the ecological character of the site does not occur again will involve the Department responsible for management of National Parks, AEWA – the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement, and Wetlands International.
We encourage other Contracting Parties to follow Senegal’s example in working with the Ramsar International Organization Partners and other MEAs towards achieving the Ramsar mission for the wise use of all wetlands.
-- Cynthia Kibata, Assistant Advisor for Africa