Camp at night, Chad
Chad is party to a number of international environmental agreements including biodiversity, climate change, desertification, endangered species, ozone layer protection and wetlands. The major environmental issues are inadequate supplies of drinking water, improper waste disposal in rural areas and desertification.
Chad has two National Parks, seven Faunal Reserves and one Ramsar site representing some 9% of the land area of the country. The Working Group on International Wader and Waterfowl Research has conducted 18 surveys in Africa and its forward plan includes ground surveys in the Lake Chad Basin (WIWO Report 75 2002).
14th September 2007: Lake Chad is shrinking and its contraction is amongst changes highlighted in the updated Times Atlas of the World.
Lake Chad has retreated by 95 per cent since 1963 because of water extraction, increased population, overgrazing and less rainfall.
Millions of birds including cuckoos, spotted flycatchers, wheatears and turtle doves fly thousands of miles annually, between wintering sites in southern Africa and nesting areas in Europe. These birds have all declined, in some cases by more than 50 per cent. Problems finding enough food before they return to Britain are amongst the difficulties they are facing.
The Sahel region, where Lake Chad lies, is a major refuelling site for migrating birds. They stop here to feed on insects and berries. A shrunken Lake Chad means much of the vegetation harbouring this food has gone. Less food means underfed birds means fewer will make it to Europe.
We have already noticed, both through survey and anecdote, substantial declines of spotted flycatchers, turtle doves and cuckoos. There are other crises these birds are facing – turtle doves are shot in southern Europe and the best nesting holes may be taken by the time spotted flycatchers arrive - but the drying of Lake Chad, the Sahel and the neighbouring Sahara desert, is still a major problem.