Working for birds in Africa

Mauritania

News

Wed, 02/06/2013 - 15:08 -- abc_admin

The following largely unconfirmed records are from the Bulletin of the African Bird Club for information only. Some records were first published in Birding World and Dutch Birding.

from ABC Bulletin 23.1

The first Swinhoe’s Storm-petrel Hydrobates (Oceanodroma) monorhis for West Africa was observed southwest of Nouakchott on 6 September 2015. As during the same period in 2014, vast numbers of Black Terns Chlidonias niger (probably >40,000 individuals) congregated near Nouadhibou at nightfall in September.

from ABC Bulletin 21.2

A Dark-bellied Brent Goose Branta (bernicla) bernicla (or perhaps a Black Brant B. (b.) nigricans but not a Pale-bellied Brent Goose B. (b.) hrota) flew past Arel, Banc d’Arguin, on 29 January 2014. A Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes at Nouakchott on 6 February was the second for Mauritania; the first was observed further north, between Nouakchott and Nouâmghâr, on 22 March 2004.

from ABC Bulletin 20.1

The first Red-footed Booby Sula sula for the country, a juvenile, was observed offshore at 19°22’26”N 18°59’22”W on 10 October 2012; a second (or the same) individual was noted at 18°03’09”N 16°34’43”W on 16 November.

Records from the south, made along the road from Nouakchott to Kiffa, Ayoun, Timbhedga and Nema on 21 - 23 October, include some noteworthy distributional data (cf. Isenmann et al. 2010. Birds of Mauritania) for Little Swift Apus affinis (at least 50 at Nema), Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus (7–8, including four juveniles, at Timbedgha), Abyssinian Roller Coracias abyssinicus (one between Ayoun and Kiffa; an adult and a juvenile at Kiffa), Hoopoe Upupa epops (one near Ayoun), Western Red-billed Hornbill Tockus (erythrorhynchus) kempi (one between Ayoun and Kiffa), and House Sparrow Passer domesticus (observed at Kiffa, Ayoun and Timbedgha).

from ABC Bulletin 19.1

An African Crake Crex egregia was reported from Iwik, Banc d’Arguin, on 29 November; there is one previous record from the area, of an exhausted individual found in late January 2007.

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In 2009, a juvenile Saker Falcon Falco cherrug, satellite-tracked from Hungary to Spain and Portugal, migrated south along Morocco’s coast and arrived at Banc d’Arguin in October; there are few records of the species in the country.

The long-staying Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus vetula at the Banc d’Arguin was still present at Iwik in December 2007. Other December records from the north-west include an Abyssinian Roller Coracias abyssinicus at Nouadhibou on 16 - 17th (there are few records this far north), four Eurasian Skylarks Alauda arvensis also there on 16th, and an adult Sudan Golden Sparrow Passer luteus at Cansado on 15th. Also in December, a warden of Banc d’Arguin National Park claimed that he had seen 4–5 Ostriches Struthio camelus in the park in 2006 and 2007.

About 60 Seebohm’s Wheatears Oenanthe oenanthe seebohmi were observed or trapped in the south of the country between 9 and 14 March 2007.

The long-staying Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus vetula at Zira, Banc d’Arguin, first seen in 1997, was found again on 8 December 2006. In the north-west, close to the border, c.20 Black-crowned Sparrow Larks Eremopterix nigriceps, including at least one fledgling, were seen south of Choûm on 3-4 December and a Dunn’s Lark Eremalauda dunni was c.23 km south of Boû Lanouâr on 9 December. Fifteen Cricket Warblers Spiloptila clamans were found south of Choûm on 4 December and three c.20 km south of Boû Lanouâr on 7 December. At the latter locality, more than 65 Desert Sparrows Passer simplex were observed on 7 and 9 December, and more than 55 Sudan Golden Sparrows P. luteus south of Choûm on 4 December.

A visit to the Atar area during 20-27 March 2005 produced the following records. A Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia was at Akmakou oasis on 24th, a juvenile Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos west of Chinguetti on 21st, and a Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius cursor west of Ouadane on 23rd. Several Blue-naped Mousebirds Urocolius macrourus and Crested Larks Galerida cristata were seen on 25th-26th. In Toungad oasis, near Atar, Common Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus and Black Scrub Robin Cercotrichas podobe were found; the latter also at Terjit oasis. A Cricket Warbler Spiloptila clamans was observed between Chinguetti and Ouadane. Desert Sparrows Passer simplex were rather common around Chinguetti and Ouadane; several Sudan Golden Sparrows P. luteus were also found in that area. Four African Silverbills Euodice cantans were seen at Toungad oasis on 25th.

In January 2006, the long-staying Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus vetula from the Banc d'Arguin was seen again on 11th; this bird was first found here in April 1997 and is paired with a Yellow-legged Gull L. cachinnans michahellis. At least 15 Grey-headed Gulls L.cirrocephalus were also present. Two Dunn's Larks Eremalauda dunni and 15 Desert Sparrows Passer simplex were encountered south-east of Bou Lanouar in Dakhlet, Nouadhibou, on 9th. In Adrar, a male Tristram's Warbler Sylvia deserticola and 26 Desert Sparrows were found at Tazazmout-es-Shrir on 14th.

A research cruise to the upwelling zone off Banc d’Arguin in July 2005 produced an estimated total of c.10,000 Wilson’s Storm-petrels Oceanites oceanicus on 15-17th, including feeding flocks of up to 700 birds. These numbers are unprecedented here, although it seems likely that large congregations of this species regularly visit the area in midsummer. Also recorded in the area during this period were c.10,000 Black Terns Chlidonias niger, c.700 Royal Terns Sterna maxima and c.350 Cory’s Shearwaters Calonectris diomedea, all of the form borealis where this could be determined.

Records from November 2005 include the following. On the Banc d’Arguin, 21 Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna were found close to Nair Island, on 27th. In Diawling National Park, two Black Storks Ciconia nigra, at least 100 White Storks C. ciconia and three Dark Chanting Goshawks Melierax metabates were seen on 24th. Also there, a perched Lizard Buzzard Kaupifalco monogrammicus was discovered on 29th; this is c.70 km north of the Senegal border and some 400 km north of its usual range. A Brown Snake Eagle Circaetus cinereus was in the Marigot Three area on 30th. Four Desert Sparrows Passer simplex were observed at km 253 on the Nouadhibou-Nouakchott road on 25th and four more on the Ten-Alloul track, the turning from km 253, on the 28th, with a pair nest building in an Acacia tree. 

The following records were received from the period December 2004-January 2005. A Barbary Falcon Falco pelegrinoides was at Aghkmakou (21°12'N 11°53'W), in the Adrar region, northern Mauritania, on 1 January, with presumably the same individual at another site in the same area two days later. Three Common Moorhens Gallinula chloropus were at some small pools near Aghkmakou on 1-3 January. The Kelp (Cape) Gull Larus dominicanus vetula at Tidra, Banc d'Arguin, on 27-28 December, is considered to be the same individual last reported on 24 March 2004 and first seen in 1997. In January, Speckled Pigeon Columba guinea was very common at Nouakchott and appears to have further increased compared with previous years. A few Eurasian Collared Doves Streptopelia decaocto were at Nouadhibou airport on 9 January; the species was first found in March 2004 and this is the southernmost and so far only area in western Africa where it occurs. More than 30 Plain Swifts Apus unicolor were at Nouakchott on 8 January. About 20 Dunn's Larks Eremalauda dunni were seen in northern Mauritania around 21°21'N 11°49'W on 3-6 January. A group of ten Isabelline Wheatears Oenanthe isabellina was seen between El Beyyed and Aghmakou (at 21°29'N 11°27'W) on 6 January. Five male Tristram's Warblers Sylvia deserticola were recorded in the 21°30'N 11°25'W area on 3-6 January. A group of three Cricket Warblers Spiloptila clamans was photographed at Aghkmakou on 2-3 January. Notable numbers of Desert Sparrows Passer simplex were seen between Nouakchott and Akjoujt on 31 December (c50) and in the north, at El Beyyed (40) and between El Beyyed and Aghkmakou (35) in the first week of January.

In November 2004, 30 Dunn’s Larks Eremalauda dunni were seen north of Nouakchott on 26th and six on and 29th. A small colony of c30 Rock Martins Hirundo fuligula was found on cliffs north of Iwik, Banc d’Arguin National Park, on 26th. Six Desert Sparrows Passer simplex were in the small hamlet at the Ten Alloul turn off of the Nouadhibou road on 29th and a single male was seen further south, c100 km north of Nouakchott, on the same day.

March 2004 records include the following. A Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes was found on the beach between Nouakchott and Nouâmghar on the 22nd. In Banc d'Arguin, the Cape (Kelp) Gull Larus (dominicanus) vetula was seen again with its Yellow-legged Gull L. cachinnans michahellis partner on Zira and at Iwik on the 23rd and 24th; it was also observed (and photographed) on 24 November 2003 and may be the same individual that was first seen in 1997 and 1998. Up to 12 Grey-headed Gulls L. cirrocephalus were at Iwik, Banc d'Arguin, on the 23rd and seven at Cansado on the 25th. At Cap Blanc, between 800 and 1000 Caspian Terns Sterna caspia and c500 Royal Terns S. maxima were counted on the 26th. Eurasian Collared Doves Streptopelia decaocto and Laughing Doves S. senegalensis were common at Cansado on the 25 and 26th; the occurrence of the former has yet to be documented for the country. About 20 Plain Swifts Apus unicolor were flying over Nouakchott on the 29th. Three Dunn's Larks Eremalauda dunni were singing and one pair was feeding a chick  some 127 km north of Iwik on the way to Nouadhibou, between the 25th and 27th. A Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris was seen at Cap Timirist, Banc d'Arguin, on the 29th and a male Sudan Golden Sparrow Passer luteus was found to hold a territory at Cansado on the 25th and 26th.

Observations made during a pelagic trip just inside the Western Palearctic boundary from 21 April to 9 May 2003 included several hundred each of European Storm-petrels Hydrobates pelagicus, Madeiran Storm-petrels Oceanodroma castro, Sabine’s Gulls Larus sabini, Common Terns Sterna hirundo, Arctic Terns S. paradisaea and Black Terns Chlidonias niger, mostly moving north and also over 100 each of adult Pomarine Skuas Stercorarius pomarinus and Long-tailed Skuas S. longicaudus. Other seabirds included c120 Cory’s Shearwaters Calonectris diomedea, 5 Sooty Shearwaters Puffinus griseus, c30 Arctic Skuas Strercorarius parasiticus and 5 Great Skuas Catharacta skua. Landbirds included a Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus, 10 European Turtle Doves Streptopelia turtur and a European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus.

Records from the Iwik area, Banc d'Arguin National Park from the 4th to 6th April 2001 include a Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus, 15 Grey-headed Gulls L. cirrocephalus, six Lesser Crested Terns Sterna bengalensis, a Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus, four Temminck's Horned Larks Eremophila bilopha, two Red-throated Pipits Anthus cervinus and 12 Desert Sparrows Passer simplex. At Cap Timirist in the same park, species seen on the 8th and 9th April include a Great White Egret Egretta alba, a Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus, a Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax, a Temminck's Stint Calidris temminckii, a Common Gull Larus canus, two Lesser Crested Terns Sterna bengalensis, a Roseate Tern S. dougallii, a Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus, a Temminck's Horned Lark Eremophila bilopha and an adult male Isabelline Shrike Lanius isabellinus. Estimates for other species include c500 Long-tailed Cormorants Phalacrocorax africanus, c5,000 Eurasian Spoonbills Platalea leucorodia, c50,000 Grey Plovers Pluvialis squatarola, c50,000 Red Knot Calidris canutus, c5,000 Curlew Sandpipers C. ferruginea, c50,000 Dunlin C. alpina, c1,000 Royal Terns Sterna maxima, c100,000 Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica and c100,000 Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus. A Little Gull Larus minutus was seen at Nouakchott on the 1st April 2001. An Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola was mistnetted on the 4th September 2001 in coastal scrub near Nouakchott.

Map

Mon, 01/21/2013 - 13:46 -- abc_admin

References

Mon, 01/21/2013 - 13:45 -- abc_admin

DIAGANA, C.H., EL ABIDINE OULD SIDATY, Z., DIAWARA, Y. et OULD DADDAH, M. (2007) Nouvelles données sur la nidification de la Sterne caspienne Sterna caspia au Parc National du Diawling, Mauritanie. ABC Buletin 14(2) pp 189-192.

SALEWSKI, V. (2006) Atlas Flycatcher Ficedula speculigera or Collared Flycatcher F. albicollis in Mauritania? ABC Bulletin 13 (2) pp 189-193.

SALEWSKI, V., SCHMALJOHANN, H. & HERREMANS, M. (2005) New bird records from Mauritania. Malimbus 27(1) pp 19-32.

SCHMALJOHANN, H. & SALEWSKI, V., (2005) Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata in Mauritania: first breeding records. ABC Bulletin 12 (2) pp 153-155.

SCHMALJOHANN, H. & THOMA, M., (2005) First record of American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica for Mauritania, and its status in western Africa. ABC Bulletin 12 (2) pp 158-161.

SHINE, T., ROBERTSON, P. and LAMARCHE, B. Mauritania chapter pp 567-581 in FISHPOOL, L.D.C. and EVANS M.I. editors (2001) Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority sites for conservation. Newbury and Cambridge, UK. Pisces Publications and BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No.11).

SIEFERT, N. and SIDATY, Z. EL. A. O. (2013) First breeding record of Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla for Mauritania, in Dawling National Park. (2013) ABC Bulletin 20(1) pp 67-69.

Contacts

Mon, 01/21/2013 - 13:42 -- abc_admin

African Bird Club representative

The African Bird Club is seeking to appoint a representative in this region. If you are interested in supporting and promoting the Club, have any queries or require further information relating to the ABC representatives scheme, please contact the Membership Secretary at membership@africanbirdclub.org.

Bird recorder and checklist compiler

Otto Overdijk
Knuppeldam 4
9166 NZ Schiermonnikoog
Netherlands

o.overdijk@wxs.nl

Contacts

Brahmin Ould Messouad
Parc National du Diawling
BP 3935
Nouakchott.

Parc National du Banc d’Arguin
Av. Gamal Abdel Nasser
B.P. 5355
Nouakchott
Mauritanie

Fax: (+222) 25 85 42
Tel: (+222) 25 85 41
e-mail: pnba@mauritania.mr

WIWO has conducted 18 surveys in Africa including 4 in Mauritania.

Working Group on International Wader and Waterfowl Research (WIWO)
c/o Driebergse weg 16c
3708 JB Zeist
Netherlands.

Clubs

There are no addresses for bird clubs in Mauritania at present.

Conservation

Mon, 01/21/2013 - 13:41 -- abc_admin

Mauritania is party to several international agreements including conventions on Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species and Wetlands.

There are a large number of environmental issues such as overgrazing, deforestation and soil erosion which aggravated by drought contribute to desertification; fresh water is very limited away from the Senegal, the only perennial river.

The Banc d’Arguin National Park has a committed staff, and there are plans underway to develop and implement an ornithological ecotourism strategy, which will offer enhanced opportunities for birdwatching and also bird conservation in this park. The coastal flats regularly support around 2 million migratory waders. Although there appear to have been some fluctuations in numbers of waders present, the site remains of prime importance for several species of wader. There are specific laws that aim to protect the park and its natural resources.

Lac d'Aleg is a semi-permanent wetland 250 km south-east of Nouakchott, 70 km from the Senegal River which has 4,300 ha of wetland - see section on IBAs. The area is now over-grazed and the water level is to be managed for cultivation. The fear is this will go as did Lac Rkîz which is now a tiny area of uninteresting swamp.

Mauritania plays an internationally important role in the productivity of marine fish, and thus in the economy of several West African countries. However, several fish species have been over-exploited, including sharks, rays and sawfish, and the whole ecology of the coastal area is threatened by industrial offshore fishing and the development of petrochemical exploration.

Books & Sounds

Mon, 01/21/2013 - 13:41 -- abc_admin

The western and central parts of Africa now have an excellent guide in the Birds of Western Africa by Borrow and Demey. It is a fantastic reference work and thoroughly recommended. It covers 23 countries south of the Sahara, from Mauritania in the northwest, to Chad and Central African Republic in the east, and Congo Brazzaville in the southeast, include the Cape Verde and Gulf of Guinea Islands. The paperback version is much more portable than the hard cover edition and it is ideal for the field, although there is less detail.

Birds of Africa south of the Sahara also covers the same countries except the Cape Verde Islands.

You can purchase these and other books from WildSounds, one of the largest specialist UK mail-order companies, via our book and media sales page. Many birdwatchers are not only interested in birds, so we have added the most useful books for other taxa on this page.

*** Wildsounds donates 5% of each order generated via these links to the ABC Conservation Fund. Please order here, get a good price and support ABC! ***

Book image: 
Book info: 
Birds of Western Africa, Nik Borrow & Ron Demey, Helm, Hardback.
Book description: 

Helm Identification Guide. 147 plates depicting over 1280 species in 2800 individual figures. Covers Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Rio Muni, Gabon, Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, part of Mauritania and the islands of Sao Tome, Principe and Bioko (Fernando Po). All the species described are illustrated in colour apart from a few vagrants, which are depicted in black-and-white in the text. Distribution maps are provided for the majority of species (except vagrants). 832 pages.

Media type: 
Book image: 
Book info: 
Field Guide to the Birds of Western Africa, Nik Borrow & Ron Demey, Helm, Softback.
Book description: 

Helm Field Guide. Utilises all the plates from the Helm ID Guide by the same authors, with a concise, authoritative text on facing pages, to create a guide covering all 1,304 species found in the region. The guide also contains an updated colour distribution map for each species and a number of new images have been painted just for this guide. Covers Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Rio Muni, Gabon, Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, part of Mauritania and the islands of Sao Tome, Principe and Bioko (Fernando Po). 512 pages.

Media type: 
Book image: 
Book info: 
Birds of Africa South of the Sahara, Ian Sinclair & Peter Ryan, New Holland, Softback.
Book description: 

Second edition, including 500 new images and 400 updated distribution maps. Unrivalled coverage of African birds in a single volume. 2129+ species covered with an additional 101 vagrants briefly described. Revised to reflect the latest changes in taxonomy. Species descriptions give precise identification features highlighting differences between similar species as well as briefly reporting habitat, status and call. Annotated illustrations portray distinctive plumages as well as diagnostic flight patterns and major geographic variants where applicable.

Media type: 
Book image: 
Book info: 
Oiseaux de Mauritanie / Birds of Mauritania. Paul Isenmann, Maurice Benmergui, Peter Browne, Amadou Diam Ba, Checkh Hamallah Diagana, Yelli Diawara & Zeine El Abidine ould Sidaty, 2010. Paris: Société d'Études Ornithologiques de France. 408 pp, more than 80 colour photographs and four maps. Softback.
Book description: 

This is a well-researched and attractively produced volume. Written by an international team including Mauritanian ornithologists, it contains a wealth of data and undoubtedly will become the yardstick by which observations will be assessed for many years to come. Additionally, it highlights the important gaps that still exist in our knowledge of Mauritania's avifauna: for example, large areas in the south have barely been explored during the wet season and for many species proof of breeding is still lacking. Hopefully, this book will stimulate both foreign and local ornithologists and birders to start filling those gaps.

See full book review.

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Visiting

Mon, 01/21/2013 - 13:38 -- abc_admin

Birding tours

We know of no tours planned to Mauritania.

Guides

There are no birding guides known in Mauritania.

Logistics

There are regular flights to Nouakchott from Paris and to the African cities of Casablanca, Algiers, Dakar, Bamako, Banjul and Abidjan. Air Mauritanie runs regular internal flights to Nouâdhibou, Atâr, Néma and several other towns. Bush taxis and trucks cover all the major routes but the roads are often bad and the trips slow and long. Hire cars are expensive, but are available in Nouakchott. There is a train which connects Nouâdhibou to Zouérat. There are crossing points over the Senegal River including a ferry at Rosso.

For more information see Lonely Planet.

Safety

Driving is possible through some of Mauritania, but it is advisable to take a guide especially when venturing inland or along coastal tracks. Many tar roads have been covered by sand and a knowledge of deserts, winds and even tides is required.

Most safety and health issues are no different from those in many African countries. Guidebooks, travel companies and websites provide much of the advice one needs, but key points warrant repetition here: (1) although not likely to be present in this part of Africa, be aware of the risk of malaria and seek current advice, sleep in a sealed tent or under a net and take prophylaxis as recommended; (2) always ensure you have sufficient water and some method of purification (even if this comprises a pot and a campfire for boiling); (3) do not underestimate the danger of being in the sun for too long, ensure you use sun-block, drink plenty of water and wear a hat; (4) although the prevalence is low in this part of Africa, be aware of the general risk of AIDS; (5) ensure that you take a reasonably-equipped first-aid pack with you including supplies of hypodermic and suturing needles. See the following website or your own embassy website for safety and travel information: US Travel and UK FCO.

Hotspots

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Banc d`Arguin National Park is a Natural World Heritage Site and Ramsar site. It is situated on the Atlantic desert-coast of Mauritania, midway between Nouakchott in the south and Nouâdhibou in the north, approximately 150 km south-south-east of Nouâdhibou.

The park holds large numbers of wintering waders including Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola, Red Knot Calidris canutus, Common Redshank Tringa totanus and Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica. Breeding birds include Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus, Long-tailed Cormorant Phalacrocorax africanus, Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica, Caspian Tern S. caspia, Royal Tern S. maxima and Common Tern S. hirundo. There are publications about this National Park including a park guide.

Parc National du Diawling in the lower delta of the River Senegal is an important collecting and breeding ground for waterfowl. Together with the Senegalese part of the delta, where the Parc National des Oiseaux du Djoudj is situated, this area provides an important feeding and watering site for numerous Palearctic migrants. The mangrove swamp supports breeding colonies of Purple Heron Ardea purpurea, Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax, African Spoonbill Platalea alba, Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo and Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus. Small numbers of bustards, guineafowl and francolins are present.

Species

Mon, 01/21/2013 - 13:37 -- abc_admin

Country checklist and status

You can download and print a checklist for Mauritania.

A total of 541 species has been recorded in Mauritania and of these, 196 are resident, 294 show regular seasonal movements but do not breed, including 185 Palearctic migrants.

Endemic / Near-endemic species

There are no endemic nor near-endemic species in Mauritania. However, there are endemic subspecies of Grey Heron Ardea cinerea monicae and Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia balsaci, both found especially at the Banc d’Arguin. The spoonbill also visits Senegal, but the Banc d’Arguin is its only breeding site.

Threatened species

Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotus Vulnerable
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni Vulnerable
Corncrake Crex crex Vulnerable
Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola Vulnerable

Important Bird Areas

Mon, 01/21/2013 - 13:36 -- abc_admin

The Saharan-Sindian biome covers much of the north and centre of the country whilst the southern third of the country falls within the Sahel biome. 14 species belonging to each of these biomes has been recorded. In addition, small elements of the Sudan-Guinea Savanna biome are found in the extreme south of the country and 12 species of this biome have been recorded. The most important site ornithologically is the Banc d’Arguin which periodically supports the largest concentration of migratory waders in Africa, more than 2 million birds. There are other significant wetlands in the Sahel zone, many associated with the Senegal river. Recent surveys have shown that the range of scattered wetlands in the east of the country (tamourts) may hold as many birds as the coastal sites. The number and distribution of waterbirds found inland is largely dependent on rainfall and therefore varies considerably from year to year.

There are 24 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) which cover some 18,000 km2 or 1.7% of the area of the country. Only 4 of the sites have protection although there are proposals for others to be included as nationally protected areas or Ramsar sites. 14 of the IBAs are principally wetlands.

The following 11 IBAs hold species which are restricted to the Sahara-Sindian biome: Tamreïkat; Chegga; El Mréiti; Kediet ej Jill; El Ghallâouîya; Banc d’Arguin National Park; Ibi (Graret el Frass); Arâguîb el Jahfa; Wagchogda; Tinigart and Wad Initi. Species include Crowned Sandgrouse Pterocles coronatus, Pharaoh’s Eagle Owl Bubo ascalaphus, Greater Hoopoe-Lark Alaemon alaudipes, Bar-tailed Lark Ammomanes cincturus, White-crowned Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga, Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githaginea and Desert Sparrow Passer simplex.

The following 6 IBAs hold Sahel biome restricted range species: Banc d’Arguin National Park; Arâguîb el Jahfa; Wagchogda; Wad Initi (all in addition to the Sahara-Sindian species) and Aftout es Sâheli and Diawling National Park. Sahel species include Nubian Bustard Neotis nuba, Black Scrub-Robin Cercotrichas podobe, Cricket Warbler Spiloptila clamans, Sudan Golden Sparrow Passer luteus and Chestnut-bellied Starling Lamprotornis pulcher.

Banc d’Arguin National Park was established in 1976 and protects 40% of the Mauritania coastline between Nouakchott and Nouâdhibou. It covers a total area of 12,000 km2 and includes shallow open sea and seagrass bed (60-80,000 ha), intertidal flats (55,000 ha), channels and creeks as well as coastal desert habitats. It holds possibly the world’s largest concentrations of non-breeding waders and it is estimated that over 30% of all waders using the East Atlantic flyway winter here. There is more information on this site in the hotspots and news sections.

Other IBAs are important for seabirds and waterbirds. Cap Blanc is a coastal site with significant numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus, Caspian Tern Sterna caspia and Sandwich Tern S. sandvicensis. Gabou is a wetland site with large numbers of Ruff Philomachus pugnax, Garganey Anas querquedula and White-faced Whistling Duck Dendrocygna viduata in the years it receives adequate rainfall. Lac d’Aleg and Lac de Mâl in the south-west had records of 116,000 and 33,690 waterbirds respectively in 1987. More than 20,000 waterbirds have been recorded at Tâmourt en Na'âj and 43,600 by aerial survey at Rkîz in November 1999. Chott Boul is a coastal wetland which holds along with the southern parts of Aftout es Sâheli the only probable breeding colony of Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor in West Africa as well as large numbers of Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata, Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta and Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa. The following sites are in the south-east of the country: Gâat Mahmoûdé which periodically holds large numbers of Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus, Knob-billed Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos, Black Crowned Crane Balearica pavonina and Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus; Tâmourt de Chlim; Sawana-Oum Lellé; Rkîz and Kankossa with at least 20,000 waterbirds recorded at each site.

For further details, download the country IBAs from BirdLife International.

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