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Migratory birds conservation in West Africa to be strengthened through parnertships


Dakar, Senegal - Seven countries in West Africa, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Mauritania, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde (not represented), have agreed to collaborate in the conservation of important sites for migratory birds along their coasts that receive little and/or no attention from ongoing conservation initiatives in the region. The decision was reached after a 4-day workshop (November 16-19, 2009) in Dakar Senegal, organised by BirdLife International in collaboration with Wetlands International.

The workshop which was funded by the Mava Foundation and with co funding support of Wetlands International was aimed at developing a regional project for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats along the coasts of West Africa.   
The participants at the workshop, who were drawn from civil society organizations, government institutions and relevant ongoing conservation programmes and initiatives in the region identified and agreed on a network of sites and species, as well as, a menu of conservation actions (including national and local capacity building of institutions to improve monitoring  of important sites and their management and enhancement of the livelihood of local communities  dependent on these important sites)  that would be undertaken over the 4-year life span of the project.
A least of 177 migratory species have been recorded along the coasts of west Africa, from Sierra Leone to Mauritania; (81 waterbirds, 52 passerines, 20 raptors, 10 seabirds, and the remainder being swifts,  bee-eaters, nightjars, etc.) with 50% occurring in all the seven countries targeted by the project.  Two of these species are Endangered, 3 Vulnerable and 10 Near Threatened. However, it is worth noting that 50% of the species not currently on the list of threatened species (of Least Concern) are also declining. Some of the key sites for migratory birds in the region include; Banc d’Arguin National Park and Chott Boul, Mauritania; Delta du Saloum and Djoudj Wetlands, Senegal; Arquipélago dos Bijagós, Guinea Bissau; Sierra Leone River Estuary, Sierra Leone and Iles Tristao, Guinea. The key attention is the endemic Cape Verde purple heron Ardea bournei, whose whole population breeds in just one mahogany tree at Banana village the island of Santiago, with an estimated population of some 20 pairs. Out of a total of 43 important bird areas (IBA) in the region that qualify for migratory birds, 22 have not a status of  protected areas where no specific conservation actions has been taken yet.
Key threats to migratory birds identified in the region include; agricultural mechanisation and intensification, agricultural/industrial/domestic pollution, commercial/residential development, unsustainable harvesting (wood, plants, food), unsustainable hunting of species, natural system modification, e.g. water management, invasive species and human disturbance.
The effective engagement and support of international conventions and agreements and their corresponding implementing mechanisms, especially at the sub-regional level, was highlighted, by Evelyn Moloko of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement and Mame Dagou Diop of “Programme Regional de Conservation des Resources Marines” (PRCM) of West Africa, as a critical pathway for ensuring issues of migratory birds are taken into account and effectively implemented by policy and decision makers.
The partnership and participatory approach adopted, right from the onset of the project development process, is one of the outstanding results of the workshop and a laudable approach for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats that will also benefit local communities, according to Ibrahima Thiam of Wetlands International.
About BirdLife International 

BirdLife International is a global Partnership of conservation organizations that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources. BirdLife Partners operate in over one hundred countries and territories worldwide with 22 in Africa including seven in West Africa: Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Cameroon. 

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About Wetlands International

Wetlands International is one of the world's leading organizations working for the protection of wetlands across the world, working to sustain and restore wetlands, their resources and biodiversity for future generations.  In Africa, the organisation works to ensure the wise management of wetlands throughout the continent, through its regional headquarters in Dakar, Senegal, and offices in Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Kenya, as well as a wide range of initiatives run together with partner organizations.

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About Mava Foundation:

The mission of the Foundation is to contribute to maintaining terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, both qualitatively and quantitatively, with a view to preserving their biodiversity. To this end, it promotes scientific research, training and integrated management practices whose effectiveness has been proved, while securing a future for local populations in cultural, economic and ecological terms. 

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For more information contact:

Dr. Paulinus Ngeh Email:; Dr. Hazell Shokellu  Thompson, Email:

Mr. Abdoulaye Ndaiaye Email:; Moussa S. Diop mdiop@wetlands


Communications and Media Coordinator

Wetlands International Africa

Phone: +221 33 869 16 81


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