Working for birds in Africa

Niger

News

Wed, 02/06/2013 - 15:20 -- abc_admin

These records are largely unsubstantiated reports published in the Bulletins of the African Bird Club.

from ABC Bulletin 23.1

Noteworthy breeding records for 2015 include the following. Two nests of Egyptian Vultures Neophron percnopterus were found in eastern Niger in August; unfortunately the species is hunted in that area, to be sold for black magic purposes in Nigeria. Lesser Striped Swallows Cecropis abyssinica were found breeding in a culvert near Galmi in August; this constitutes a range extension considerably east of Dallol Bosso, as well as the first nests on a man-made structure in Niger. A juvenile African Cuckoo Cuculus gularis was attended by a pair of Yellow-billed Shrikes Corvinella corvinella near Maradi in September, but was not seen to be fed by them. A month later in the same general area, a juvenile Levaillant’s Cuckoo Clamator levaillantii was being fed by Brown Babblers Turdoides plebejus. Also in October, a juvenile Didric Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius was attended by a male Little Weaver Ploceus luteolus at Niamey; this is the first proof of breeding of Didric Cuckoo in Niger since 1922 and the first record of Little Weaver as a host.

from ABC Bulletin 22.2

The Barbary Falcon Falco (peregrinus) pelegrinoides photographed at Galmi on 3 December 2014 proved to be one of a pair that remained until at least 28 January 2015.

from ABC Bulletin 22.1

Reports from the period July– December 2014 include the following. Expeditions organised by the Sahara Conservation Fund resulted in a second sighting of a Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos at Termit, on 6 December. A Rüppell’s Vulture Gyps rueppelli at Gadafawa, just south of the Aïr, on 24 October, is the northernmost record in more than 30 years. At Gadabeji, an adult Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus and an adult Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle C. beaudouini were photographed on 3 August, which proves that the two species can sometimes occur together. A dependent young Dwarf Bittern Ixobrychus sturmii was observed in rice fields near Niamey on 10 October—the northernmost breeding record in Niger to date. Also there, a dead male Spotted Crake Porzana porzana was found on 6 October; this is only the fourth or fifth record for Niger. An adult Barbary Falcon Falco (peregrinus) pelegrinoides photographed at Galmi on 3 December was the seventh record for Niger. Also there was a European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus on 22 October, three years to the day after the first records from Galmi; recent records from April–May 2012 demonstrate that Galmi is used as a staging area by this species on both its northbound and southbound migrations. House Sparrows Passer domesticus photographed in Mainé- Soroa on 31 October 2008 are clearly of a different subspecies to those in Chad photographed in September 2014. 

from ABC Bulletin 21.2

No noteworthy records from late 2013 - early 2014 were received. Older records that have surfaced recently include those of a Black Heron Egretta ardesiaca (fifth record for Niger) and a Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus (third record but certainly under-recorded), both observed at two different wetlands near Birni N’Konni by the Dutch Montagu’s Harrier Foundation expedition on 27 January 2007. Also noteworthy are a Secretary-bird Sagittarius serpentarius, now possibly extinct in Niger, photographed near Abalak in May 1985, and the fourth record of Little Owl Athena noctua, at Tezirzek in the Aïr Mountains in January - this species is also under-recorded: the local Touareg appear to know its call and burrowing habits well. Photographs can be viewed on the Niger Bird DataBase.

from ABC Bulletin 21.1

Due to ongoing security problems in the country only a few reports were received in the second half of 2013, including two Hottentot Teal Anas hottentota on 28 September and 27 October, as well as 1 - 2 House Sparrows Passer domesticus on 24 September, all in the south; there are fewer than 20 records of this species.

from ABC Bulletin 20.2

The current security situation means that recent reports are scarce. Evidence of migration across the Sahara was found for Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia and Slender-billed Gull Chroicocephalus genei, both of which were photographed at a pool on the eastern side of the Air on 26 January 2013, during a survey by the Sahara Conservation Fund. A Grey Pratincole Glareola cinerea was photographed on 22 June 2012 at Tam wetland on the Komadougou-Yobe River, at the border with Nigeria, 150 km from Lake Chad; the only other record of this species in Niger away from the Niger River, from 1975, was nearby. An African Thrush Turdus pelios also seen at Tam wetland on the same day is the first record east of Zinder. An old record has surfaced of a Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla, trapped on 9 October 1987 at the edge of a wetland near Makalondi in the south-west; the only other country record was made 15 years later. 

from ABC Bulletin 20.1

Records from April - December 2012 are as follows. Two juvenile Saddle-billed Storks Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis were photographed in W International Park on 22 April; this is only the second record of juveniles from Niger. The highlight of the period is undoubtedly the Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca, satellite-tracked from Hungary, which remained in south-west Niger during late November and early December; this is the first record of the species west of northern Cameroon. A Fox Kestrel Falco alopex was photographed on 3 September at the southern end of the Termit Range, in the newly gazetted, 97,000 km2 National Natural and Cultural Reserve of Termit - Tin Toumma; this is the northernmost record in Niger. A Greater Painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis photographed near Mainé-Soroa on 20 June is the first record east of Dakoro / Maradi. A male white-phase African Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis found 15 km south of Niamey on 27 May is the first record in the country outside W International Park.

Noteworthy records from earlier dates include the following. A Lesser Moorhen Gallinula angulata photographed at Galmi on 1 August 2011 is the first record in Niger east of the Niger River Valley. A Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe photographed in the Ténéré desert on 30 September 2010 proved to be of subspecies leucorhoa, which breeds in Iceland, Greenland and north-east Canada. A Lesser Blue-eared Starling Lamprotornis chloropterus caught and photographed after a storm at Galmi on 15 August 2011 is only the third record for Niger. One of the photographs donated by the Kusserow family is of an albino Sudan Golden Sparrow Passer luteus, observed at Mainé-Soroa for at least three days in March 2011.

from ABC Bulletin 19.2

Records from December 2011 - May 2012 are as follows. A juvenile Long-crested Eagle Lophaetus occipitalis and a Temminck’s Stint Calidris teminckii, both photographed at Tam wetland on 4 December, are the first records for the south-east. A Rock Pratincole Glareola nuchalis was seen at Tapoa, in W International Park, on 8 December; of the seven records for Niger, this is the first away from the Niger River. European Nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus were displaying and singing at Galmi in early May. Up to seven Masked Shrikes Lanius nubicus were reported between 5 December and 21 February near Mainé-Soroa, where they are apparently regular ‘winter’ visitors. House Sparrow Passer domesticus has made a huge westward range extension: a male was observed at Soubdou, 200 km west of the previous westernmost record at Mainé-Soroa, on 28 December, and since 9 February seven records have been submitted of up to seven individuals of both sexes, in the hospital grounds at Galmi, 550 km further west still. It would be interesting to know if House Sparrows are also spreading in northern Nigeria, and which subspecies is involved. Two House Buntings Emberiza striolata at a quarry at Hamdara, 60 km east of Zinder, on 8 December, are the most southerly in Niger to date.

The gift of bird photographs mentioned in previous Recent Reports is slowly being sorted. Pictures recently uploaded to the Niger Bird Database include a Denham’s Bustard Neotis denhami near Goudoumaria on 16 August 2010; the first record for the country of Harlequin Quail Coturnix delegorguei, caught at night on the edge of Mainé-Soroa on 6 July 2010; the first and second records of Three-banded Plover Charadrius tricollaris, at a temporary wetland south-west of Mainé-Soroa on 7 October 2010 and near Koublé, south-east of Gouré, on 8 December 2011; and a Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus found dead near Mainé-Soroa in October 2010, the fourth record for the country.

Uploaded old records to the Niger Bird Database include three firsts for the country: a Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis near Arlit in March 2002; a Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus near Niamey on 21 October 1989; and a group of 30 - 40 Lesser Blue-eared Starlings Lamprotornis chloropterus, including juveniles, along the Niamey–Say road on 9–22 July 1989. Other noteworthy  records include a Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla in the Tara irrigation area, near Gaya, on 5 March 2002; a male and female Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse Pterocles lichtensteinii between Iférouane and Arlit on 19 March 2002; and three Black-faced Quailfinches Ortygospiza atricollis near Niamey on 12 February 1989, with another 12 there in December 1989 (second and third records).

from ABC Bulletin 19.1

The following records are based on new entries in the Niger Bird DataBase. The first confirmed record of African Black Swift Apus barbatus for Niger was supported by a photograph taken at cliffs near Gouré, in the south-east, on 25 June 2011. There are eight previous claims, since 1989, all but one in May - September (rainy season) and all near cliffs with potential breeding cavities. In the same area on the same day several White-rumped Swifts A. caffer were observed, the first outside the south-west, and possibly breeding. Just north of Gouré and Kéllé, a Desert Eagle Owl Bubo ascalaphus with two just fledged young and a White-crowned Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga were seen on 1 May 2011; these are the southernmost records for both species in Niger.

An ornithological visit to the future reserve of the Termit Massif (16°N 11°E) during the first half of September 2011, organised by the Projet Antilopes Sahélo-Sahariennes and the Sahara Conservation Fund, produced 78 species, amongst them 42 Palearctic migrants, in six days, including Ruff Philomachus pugnax (drinking after crossing the Sahara), Pallid Swift Apus pallidus (nesting within a natural cavity in a sandstone cliff), Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba, a Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava (seeking shade under one of the cars), a Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos, a Whinchat Saxicola rubetra, Rüppell’s Warbler Sylvia rueppellii and Sardinian Warbler S. melanocephala. A visit to W International Park on 21–23 September produced several pale Wahlberg’s Eagles Aquila wahlbergi, an African Hobby Falco cuvierii and a juvenile African Cuckoo Cuculus gularis.

During an ornithological training course for tourist guides at W International Park, from 28 November to 4 December 2011, the following species were observed in the Niger part: Black Stork Ciconia nigra (nine), Western Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus cinerascens, a calling Blue-spotted Wood Dove Turtur afer (the first substantiated record since Giraudoux et al. 1988; the call was compared on the spot with the Chappuis recording), a pair of Verreaux’s Eagle Owls Bubo lacteus, Grey-rumped Swallow Pseudhirundo griseopyga, Yellow Penduline Tit Anthoscopus parvulus, Black-faced Firefinch Lagonosticta larvata (clearly established in the park), and Exclamatory Paradise Whydah Vidua interjecta and its host Red-winged Pytilia Pytilia phoenocoptera. One of the guides also provided a convincing description of a Brown-chested Lapwing Vanellus superciliosus he saw in the park in December 2010 while guiding a visiting birder, who apparently photographed the bird.

A gift of bird photographs taken mostly in eastern Niger revealed the first record in the country since 1936 of European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus, of which several were seen at Galmi in October 2011. Also among the photos was the first record for Niger of Wattled Starling Creatophora cinerea - a group of five or more with at least two males in breeding plumage.

from ABC Bulletin 18.2

The following records are based on new entries in the Niger Bird DataBase. Most remarkable was the sighting of a second-calendar year Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos of the dark North African subspecies homeyeri on 20 November 2010 at Termit; previous records from Niger are all from the Aïr, >300 km away. Observations of Black-bellied Bustard Lissotis melanogaster and Savile’s Bustard Lophotis savilei in Parc International du ‘W’ on 9 May 2006 constitute the seventh and the 54th records entered in the NiBDaB respectively. According to Giraudoux et al, Savile’s was known only from ‘W’, whilst Black-bellied had a wider distribution in southern Niger. In the NiBDaB, post-1988, the reverse is the case: Black-bellied records are only from ‘W’ and 50 km north, whilst Savile’s has a rather wider distribution as far north as Gadabeji. Visual confusion between the two species is likely and records of these two species from Niger demand closer scrutiny. An observation of African Green Pigeon Treron calvus in Parc International du ‘W’ on 19 March 2011 is the first record for the country since the 1980s. The Centre de Recherches par le Baguage des Populations d’Oiseaux (CRBPO) in Paris generously made data available on more than 2,800 birds ringed in Niger. During ringing projects in 1999 - 2003, mostly in the valley of the Niger River at Ndounga, 15 km south-east of Niamey, and at Parc International du ‘W’, a Spotted Crake Porzana porzana was ringed on 14 February 2003 (first record for Niger); four Little Crakes P. parva (only four other records); 36 Bluethroats Lusciana svecica (only one previous record), including one of the nominate subspecies; ten Savi’s Warblers Locustella luscinioides (first records for Niger; two further records since and one earlier one to be followed up); and a Grasshopper Warbler L. naevia on 31 March 2002 at Kollo (first record for Niger).

___________

Records submitted to the Niger Bird DataBase since the previous Recent Reports include the following. A Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus of the nominate race was photographed in a tree in the Tin Toumma desert on 29 September 2010. A nest of Fox Kestrel Falco alopex containing three eggs was photographed near Niamey in late May and early June. Also uploaded were photographs of a Little Crake Porzana parva at Goudel near Niamey. With two records of first-winter Blue Rock Thrushes Monticola solitarius from the Dallol Bosso on 19 February 2006, there are now seven records of the species from Niger, including one photographed. The subspecific identification of a male House Sparrow Passer domesticus, photographed at Mainé- Soroa on 1 March 2010, is still a matter of debate, with tintiganus or domesticus most likely.

The highlight of early 2010 was the presence of 'Dorottya', a satellite-tracked Saker Falcon Falco cherrug, which mostly remained c.50 km north of Zinder. The falcon was seen twice during a research project into its ecology in February. The sighting of another Saker Falcon in Nguigmi, on 13 November 2009, has been accepted. Arguably as stunning was the appearance of photographs of an adult Greater Kestrel F. rupicoloides, probably of the subspecies fieldi, taken at Termit, in the south-east, during a Sahara Conservation Fund expedition in February 2009. The nearest known records of this species are from Sudan on the border with Ethiopia, 2,500 km away.

Additional reports from December 2009–June 2010 include the following. Quite far north are records of breeding Bateleur Theratopius ecaudatus (fledgling at nest with adults) and of a single Savile's Bustard Lophotis savilei, both at Gadabeji in March. A Spotted Sandgrouse Pterocles senegallus with three young was seen at Gadafaoua, south-east of Agadez, in June. Also noteworthy is the finding of a nest with two eggs of Golden Nightjar Caprimulgus eximius, on 1 June at Taguedoufat, 100 km southeast of Agadez. The recently opened Niger Bird DataBase website, is already paying dividends. Singing Dunn's Larks Eremalauda dunni were reported east of Termit on 15 December. Eurasian Golden Orioles Oriolus oriolus passed through Mainé-Soroa during the second half of April and Masked Shrikes Lanius nubicus were quite frequent there in February. House Sparrows Passer domesticus appear to be well established and spreading in south-east Niger. The country's first record was from Djado in the far north-east in 1970; the second concerned a single male in Nguigmi, north-east of Lake Chad, on 21 August 2003. Although a search for this species at the latter site in 2005 was unsuccessful, a single was seen there on 22 April 2006. Four years later, on 20 April 2010, 'lots' were coming every day to a waterbowl in the same town, and a pair was reported from a petrol station in Mainé-Soroa, 100 km west of Lake Chad, on the border with Nigeria, in February.

During a field trip by the Sahara Conservation Fund Termit project 44 Great White Pelicans Pelecanus onocrotalus were seen on 16 August 2009 north of Gouré, in south-east Niger; there are very few recent records in Niger, all of singles or very small groups. In autumn 2009, a satellite-tracked Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus flew from Romania to its wintering grounds in Angola via Niger. Photographs of a juvenile taken near Termit on 20 February 2004, whilst one or two other individuals were observed nearby, subsequently came to light; this was very early in the year, suggesting that some may winter in West rather than southern Africa. A Eurasian Hobby F. subbuteo from Germany took a similar route via Niger to Angola and Zambia in autumn 2008; of this species, too, there are only a handful of observations in Niger.

A Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus of the subspecies rufescens, photographed near Niamey in November 2008, represents the first recent positive record; this taxon is not shown as occurring in Niger by Borrow & Demey (2001. Birds of Western Africa) and Giraudoux et al. (1988. Avifaune du Niger. Malimbus 10:1–140) mention it only in very general terms. Thiollay (1977. Distribution saisonnière des rapaces diurnes en Afrique occidentale. Oiseau & R.F.O. 47: 253–285), however, mentioned it as nesting in small numbers in rocky areas from Dogondoutchi to the Aïr, and possibly also in trees. On 25 May 2008, a Western Olivaceous Warbler Hippolais opaca was photographed at Termit, which is rather far east for this species.

Records from November 2007 - March 2008 include the following. In November, several Rüppell’s Sylvia rueppelli and Sardinian Warblers S. melanocephala were observed at Termit; both are under-reported species that winter in the drier parts of Niger.

During an ornithological training course for park guides in W International Park (Bénin, Burkina Faso, Niger) in February, 14 Black Storks Ciconia nigra were seen in the Niger part of the park. Two Red-winged Warblers Heliolais erythropterus were identified at Tapoa; this is only the second record for the country. A pair of Coqui Francolins Francolinus coqui was seen outside the park north of Tapoa. African Finfoot Podica senegalensis, Violet Turaco Musophaga violacea, Grey- rumped Swallow Pseudhirundo griseopyga (second record for Niger) and White-crowned Robin Chat Cossypha albicapilla were recorded near Point Triple. Oriole Warblers Hypergerus atriceps were also there and at the campsite on the Niger River (two duetting adults in a group of five). At Pérélégou, Red-winged Pytilias Pytilia phoenicoptera and associated Exclamatory Paradise Whydahs Vidua interjecta were observed.

A visit to Kokoro Wetland northeast of Tahoua produced a Lesser Jacana Microparra capensis on 23 February - which was unusually far north. Also quite far north was a juvenile Greater Honeyguide Indicator indicator near Niamey in March. Further noteworthy sightings from the Niamey area in February - March included Yellow-breasted Barbet Trachyphonus margaritatus, Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla, Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti with young and Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius (few records in Niger).

A Secretary Bird Sagittarius serpentarius was seen near Tilia, north of Tahoua, in September 2006; this is the first record from Niger in decades. A single Banded Martin Riparia cincta was seen on 7 June 2004 just north of Magaria, south of Zinder. A Lesser Swamp Warbler Acrocephalus gracilirostris in the same area, on 8 June 2004, constitutes the first record from Niger; the species is considered common around Kano, Nigeria, 150 km to the south. The Wheatear Expedition to Niger, Mali and Mauritania in February-March 2007, from the Vogelwarte in Wilhelmshaven, reported a female Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala near Agadez and three Sennar Penduline Tits Anthoscopus punctifrons near Abalak; the paucity of records for these species in Niger is doubtless a reflection on the lack of observers.

The most exciting news is that satellite studies have shown a juvenile Eleonora's Falcon Falco eleonorae passed through north-eastern Niger during its southbound migration and an adult female crossed the south-west northbound; in mainland West Africa, this species is a very rare vagrant, known only from northern Mauritania, in November, and, more recently, Côte d’Ivoire, in March (Bull. ABC 8: 147). In the Agadez region, visits to a number of wetlands in early December 2006 turned up a Barbary Falcon Falco pelegrinoides at Chinziganen, and a Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala and two Rüppell’s Warblers S. rueppelli at Chinwalmban. The second Montagu’s Harrier expedition to Niger in January -  February 2007 reported a Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola from a wetland near Birni N'Konni; if accepted, this would be a first for Niger and apparently only the second for West Africa, the first being from Senegal, in January 1999 (cf. Bull. ABC 8: 139–140). Also reported were a mixed group of 43 African Spoonbills Platalea alba, including many immatures, and 23 Eurasian Spoonbills P. leucorodia at Tabalak; breeding Desert Eagle Owls Bubo ascalaphus desertorum near Abalak; a Common Quail Coturnix coturnix west of Birni N’Konni and also midway between Niamey and Dosso; a number of Greater Hoopoe Larks Alaemon alaudipes in the Agadez region (surprisingly few recent observations); at least six Mourning Wheatears Oenanthe lugens near Diffa, far south of their known wintering grounds in the Aïr; a group of six Sennar Penduline Tits Anthoscopus punctifrons near Abalak; a pair of Desert Sparrows Passer simplex near Agadez; and six Red-winged Pytilias Pytilia phoenicoptera at a waterhole in the south of Parc Régional du W.

Details of the three Hottentot Teal Anas hottentota reportedly shot near Zinder during sampling of wild birds as part of H5N1 avian influenza monitoring in early 2006 have been received: they were collected at Chemagaji (13°30’N 09°50’E) on 28 February 2006 and were the only Hottentot Teal at the site, which consists of several pools in the desert.

The following records are from the period May–October 2006. Twelve occupied nests of Intermediate Egrets Egretta intermedia on 5 August, at Les Rôniers in Niamey, constitute the first confirmed breeding record of this species in Niger. It is unclear whether an immature Purple Heron Ardea purpurea at Saga the next day was also due to local breeding (unconfirmed for Niger) or involved a second calendar-year bird that did not return to Europe. An adult European Hobby Falco subbuteo reported from Les Rôniers on 17 September would be only the third record for Niger. Three male Ruffs Philomachus pugnax at Saga on 16 July are a very early observation. A Mottled Swift Tachymarptis aequatorialis on 4 June, at the Tapoa Hotel in ‘W’ National Park, would be the third record for Niger, all since August 2004. A pair of Blackstarts Cercomela melanura feeding young in the Dallol Bosso on 3 August and two adult Yellow-billed Oxpeckers Buphagus africanus feeding two juveniles, at Dougel Kaina opposite Kolo, surprisingly constitute the first confirmed breeding records for Niger. A Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus at Les Rôniers on 2 September would be the second record for Niger.

The following records are from the period October 2005-May 2006. At the Mare de Guidan Kara wetland, 30 km north-west of Birni N’Konni, the following species unusual for Niger were seen on 16 January: two Black-necked Grebes Podiceps nigricolllis, six Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope, four Common Teal A. crecca, three Common Pochards Aythya ferina, 262 Ferruginous Ducks A. nyroca and three Tufted Ducks A. fuligula; the water in the wetland is too saline for livestock and for agriculture. On a photograph taken in November 2005 at a wetland near Damana, between Baleyara and Filingué, a White-backed Duck Thalassornis leuconotus (third record for Niger) and a Hottentot Teal Anas hottentota (c.10 previous records) can be seen. It is said that three Hottentot Teal were shot near Zinder during sampling of wild birds for the H5N1 avian influenza monitoring in February-March.

          

A Bat Hawk Macheiramphus alcinus was seen attacking fruitbats in Niamey on 2 October, and two individuals were observed at dusk near the Grand Hotel on 25 May. The Montagu Harrier Circus pygargus expedition in January-February 2006 quadrupled the number of observations of the species in Niger to more than 100. Fifty Lesser Kestrels Falco naumanni were counted in the Dallol Bosso at Birni N’Gaoré on 15 January.

A Little Crake Porzana parva was photographed at Goudel ricefields (13°53'N 02°05'E) on 5 March. Two Temminck's Stints Calidris temminckii were seen at Daïkana-Daïberi (14°18'N 01°47'E) on 18 February). Four Great Snipe Gallinago media and a Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus were at Saga, near Niamey, on 7 January. A single White-bellied Bustard Eupodotis senegalensis was seen near Birni N’Konni on 18 January, and many were heard near Guidan Roumji, north-west of Maradi, on 19 January. On 18 February, during a fall of migrants due to very dusty conditions, a Cardinal Woodpecker Dendropicos fuscescens was reported near Tillabéri; the only previous report of this species from Niger is in a publication from 1950 on Tamasheq names of animals, without any other details. An Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis was found at Daïberi on 18 February. On 19 January, a Fiscal Shrike Lanius collaris was observed near Guidan Roumji, and a Red-backed Shrike L. collurio east of Birni N’Konn.

The following species, for which there are few published records in Niger, were observed in the south-east in September-October 2005. A Black Stork Ciconia nigra was c.20 km north of Diffa on 4 October. A Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina flew east of Maine-Soroa on 7 October. An African Hobby Falco cuvierii was chasing grasshoppers near Maine-Soroa on 24 September. A White-rumped Swift Apus caffer was noted north of Diffa on 27 September and another, with Little Swifts A. affinis, at Diffa on 6 October; these are the first records from eastern Niger, all previous records being from the south-west. A pair of River Prinias Prinia fluviatilis was nest building at the Komadougou Yobé River, Diffa, on 23 and 29 September, and another was by the River Niger at Tillabéry on 11 October; these would constitute the first definite records for the country, if accepted. A Yellow-spotted Petronia Petronia pyrgita was found west of Diffa on 26 September.

Following the first observations of Mottled Swift Tachymarptis aequatorialis and Alpine Swift T. melba  in 2004, Mottled and possibly also Alpine Swifts were seen on 25 October 2005 just east of Arlit, in a mixed flock with Common Swifts Apus apus, Pallid Swifts A. pallidus and a Little Swift A. affinis. A photograph of a possible African Black Swift Apus barbatus in the same flock is still being examined. The latter species has not yet been confirmed for Niger, although there are more than ten probable observations during the rainy season, including possible breeding in caves in the Dallol Bosso, 100 km east of Niamey.

Three species new to Niger were reported in 2003: Red-chested Cuckoo Cuculus solitarius, heard 43 km west of Diffa on 25 September, Grassland Pipit Anthus cinnamomeus, seen 44 km north-east of Tahoua on 25 July and Buff-bellied Warbler Phyllolais pulchella, found 39 km west of Diffa on 25 September. Noteworthy sightings from the Diffa area in September 2003 include a Clapperton's Francolin Francolinus clappertoni on 23rd, a Kurrichane Buttonquail Turnix sylvaticus on 24th with another on 26th and a Little Grey Woodpecker Dendropicos elachus on 23rd.

A pair of African Pied Wagtails Motacilla aguimp (on the bank of the Niger River) and two Black-eared Wheatears Oenanthe hispanica were observed at Niamey on 24 January 2004; although these species are not uncommon in the area, documented sightings are scarce. Two Isabelline Shrikes Lanius isabellinus, seen on 19 September 2003 near Tanout, appear to represent the second record for Niger.

Map

Wed, 01/23/2013 - 18:11 -- abc_admin

References

Wed, 01/23/2013 - 18:10 -- abc_admin

Includes all the references mentioned in this document on the birds of Niger, plus a number of others that may be of interest.

AMBAGIS, J., BROUWER, J.and JAMESON, C. (2003) Seasonal waterbird and raptor fluctuations on the Niger and Mékrou Rivers in Niger. Malimbus 25 pp 39-51.

BANNERMAN, D.A. (1931) Liste des oiseaux obtenus en 1928 par M.G.L. Bates pendant son voyage du nord de la Nigeria au Sénégal à travers le Soudan français et les territoires du Haut-Niger et de la Haute Volta. L'Oiseau et R.F.O. 12 pp 594-617.

BATES, G.L. (1933) Birds of the southern Sahara and adjoining countries in French West Africa: part I, Ibis 13(3) pp 752-780.

BATES, G.L. (1934) Birds of the southern Sahara and adjoining countries in French West Africa. Ibis 13(4) pp 61-79, 213-239, 439-466, 685-717.

BROUWER, J. and MULLIE, W. C. (1994) The potential of wetlands in Niger for agriculture, livestock, fisheries, natural products and hunting. pp 27-51 in KRISTENSEN, P. (ed.), Atelier sur les zones humides du Niger. Proceedings of a workshop, 2-5 November 1994, La Tapoa / Parc du 'W', Niger. Niamey, Niger: IUCN. (In French and English)

BROUWER, J. and MULLIE, W. C. (1995) The need for an integrated approach towards the management of small scattered wetlands in the Central Sahel. Annex 1 to the report on Workshop D: Conservation of the White Stork in its winter quarters. pp 296-297 in BIBER, O., ENGGIST, P., MARTI, C. & SALATHE T. (eds.), Conservation of the White Stork western population. Proceedings of the International Symposium on the White Stork (Western Population), Basel (Switzerland), 7-10 April 1994. Sempach, Switzerland: Schweizerische Vogelwarte.

BROUWER, J. and MULLIE, W. C. (1996) Conservation status of cranes in Niger. pp 119-126 in BEILFUSS, R.D., TARBOTON, W.R. and GICHUKI, N.N. (eds) Proceedings of the African Crane and Wetland Training Workshop, Botswana 1993. Baraboo, Wisconsin, USA: International Crane Foundation.

BROUWER, J. and MULLIE, W. C. (2001) A method for making whole country waterbird population estimates, applied to annual waterbird census data from Niger. Ostrich Suppl. 15 pp 73-82.

BROUWER, J., CODJO, S.F. & MULLIE, W.C. (2001) Niger. pp 661-672 in FISHPOOL, L.D.C. & EVANS, M.E. (eds), Important Bird Areas of Africa and Associated Islands. Conservation Series 10, BirdLife International, Cambridge.

CHAPPUIS, C. (1974) Illustration sonore de problèmes bioacoustiques posés par les oiseaux de la zone éthiopienne, deuxième partie. Alauda 42 pp 467-500.

CHRISTENSEN K. D., TØTTRUP A. P., RAHNER M. C., BROUWER J., (2005)
First records for Niger of Red-chested Cuckoo Cuculus solitarius, Grassland Pipit Anthus cinnamomeus, Buff-bellied Warbler Phyllolais pulchella and Isabelline Shrike Lanius isabellinus. ABC Bulletin 12 (2) pp 162-164.

CHRISTENSEN, K. D., TØTTRUP, A. P. and JENSEN, Fl. P. (2006) First records of Mottled Swift Tachymarptis aequatorialis and Alpine Swift T. melba for Niger. ABC Bulletin 13(1) pp 82-83.

CRISLER, T., JAMESON, C. & BROUWER, J. (2003) An updated overview of the birds of Park W, southwest Niger. Malimbus 25 pp 4–30.

DOWSETT, R.J. and DOWSETT-LEMAIRE (1993) A Contribution to the Distribution and Taxonomy of Afrotropical and Malagasy Birds. Tauraco Research Report No. 5. Tauraco Press, Liège, Belgium.

DOWSETT, R.J. and FORBES-WATSON, A.D. (1993) Checklist of Birds of Afrotropical and Malagasy Regions. Volume 1: Species limits and distribution. Tauraco Press, Liège, Belgium.

GIRAUDOUX, P., DEGAUQUIER. R., JONES, P. J., WEIGEL, J. and ISENMANN, P. (1988) Avifaune du Niger: état des connaissances en 1986. Malimbus 10 pp 1-140.

HARTERT, E. (1921) The birds collected by Capt. Angus Buchanan during his journey from Kano to Aïr or Asben. Novitates Zoologicae 1921 pp 78-141.

HARTERT, E. (1924) Ornithological results of Capt. Buchanan’s second Sahara expedition. Novitates Zoologicae 1924 pp 1-48.

HOLYOAK, D.T. and SEDDON, M.B. (1991) Notes sur la répartition des oiseaux du Niger. Alauda 59 pp 55–57.

ISSIAKA, Y. & AWAISS, A. (2009) Avifaune des zones humides du Parc National du W du Niger: importance et répartition dans le temps et dans l’espace. Malimbus 31(2) pp 65-74.

IUCN (1993) Niger: environmental synopsis (1993) Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN - The World Conservation Union. 37 pp.

JAMESON, C. M. and CRISLER, T. E. C. (1996) Guide book to Park 'W' National Park, Niger. Niamey, Niger: Peace Corps. 103 pp. + app.

JENSEN, F.P., CHRISTENSEN, K.D. and PETERSEN, B.S. (2008) The avifauna of southeast Niger. Malimbus 30(1) pp 30-54.

KOSTER, S. H. and GRETTENBERGER, J. F. (1983). A preliminary survey of birds in Park ‘W’, Niger. Malimbus 5 pp 62-72.

MILLINGTON, S. J., TIEGA, A. and NEWBY, J. (1994) La diversité biologique au Niger. pp 57-106 in KABALA, M.D. and Le BERRE, M. ( eds.), Conservation et développement en Afrique soudano-sahélienne: actes du séminaire international dans le cadre de la Convention concernant la protectioin du Patrimoine Mondial naturel et culturel, à Niamey, du 2 au 7 mars 1992.  Paris: UNESCO.

MULLIE, W.C. and BROUWER, J. (1994) The importance of wetlands in Niger for afrotropical and palearctic waterbirds. Pp.57-74 in KRISTENSEN, P. ( ed.), Atelier sur les zones humides du Niger.  Proceedings of a workshop, 2-5 November 1994, La Tapoa / Parc du ‘W’, Niger. Niamey, Niger: IUCN. (In French and English)

MULLIE, W. C., BROUWER, J., CODJO, S. F. and DECAE, R. (1999) Small isolated wetlands in the Sahel: a shared resource between people and birds. pp 30-38 in BIENTEMA, A. and van VESSEM, J. (eds.), Strategies for conserving migratory waterbirds. Proceedings of Workshop 2 of the 2nd International Conference on Wetlands and Development, Dakar, 8-14 November 1998.  Wetlands International Publication 55, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

NEWBY, J. and CANNEY, S. (undated, 1989?) Les oiseaux de l’Aïr et du Ténéré. Séries des Guides Touristiques No.2. Niger: Reserve Naturelle Nationale de l’Aïr et du Ténéré. 29 pp.

NEWBY J., GRETTENBERGER, J. and WATKINS, J. (1987) The birds of the northern Aïr, Niger. Malimbus 9 pp 4-16.

PALUDAN, K. (1936) Report on the birds collected during Professor O. Olufsen’s expedition to French Sudan and Nigeria in the year 1927: with field notes by the collector Mr. Harry Madsen. Vidensk. Medd. fra Danks Naturh. Foren, 100 pp 247-346.

PETERSEN, B.S., CHRISTENSEN, K.D. and JENSEN, F.P. (2007) Bird population densities along two precipitation gradients in Senegal and Niger. Malimbus 29(2) pp 101-121.

POILECOT, P. (1996) La Faune de la Reserve Naturelle Nationale de l’Aïr et du Ténéré. Ch.3 Oiseaux. Pp.241-254 in GIAZZI, F. (ed.), La Reserve Naturelle Nationale de l’Aïr et du Ténéré (Niger): la connaissance des éléments du milieu naturel et humain dans la cadre d’orientations pour un aménagement et une conservation durables. Niamey, Niger: MH/E - WWF - UICN.

PORTIER, B. (2008) First confirmed record of Cardinal Woodpecker Dendropicos fuscecens for Niger. ABC Bulletin 15(1) pp. 93-94.

RABEIL, T. and WACHER, T. (2011) First record of Greater Kestrel Falco rupicoloides for Niger and western Africa. ABC Bulletin 18(2) pp 211-212.

ROUSSELOT, R. (1947) Notes sur la faune ornithologique des cercles de Maradi et Tanout (Niger français). Bull. I.F.A.N. 1947 pp 99-137.

SHUL, B., GRETTENBERGER, M. and NEWBY, J. (1986) Recent observations of birds in ‘W’ National Park (Niger). Malimbus 8 pp 23-24.

SOUMANA IDRISSA (ed.) (undated) L’Environnement au Niger. Niamey, Niger: RESADEP/Institut Panos. 311 pp.

SOUVAIRAN, P. (1990) Résumé d’observations ornithologiques effectuées dans la région de Makalondi (Niger) 1968-1990. 46+5 pp. (unpublished).

VILLIERS, A. (1950) Oiseaux. Pp.345-385 in CHOPARD, L. and VILLIERS, A. (eds.), Contribution à l’étude de l’Aïr. Mémoires de l’IFAN no. 10.  Paris: Librairie Larose; Amsterdam: Swets & Zeitlinger.

WACHER, T.,NEWBY, J., HOUDOU, I., HAROUNA, A. and RABEIL (2013) Vulture observations in the Sahelian zones of Chad and Niger. ABC Bulletin 20(2) pp 186-199. 

BROWN, L.H., URBAN, E.K. and NEWMAN, K. (1982) The Birds of Africa, vol. 1. Academic Press, London.

URBAN, E.K., FRY, C.H. and KEITH, S. (1986) The Birds of Africa, vol. 2. Academic Press, London.

FRY, C.H., KEITH, S. and URBAN, E.K. (1988) The Birds of Africa, vol. 3. Academic Press, London.

KEITH, S., URBAN, E.K. and FRY, C.H. (1992) The Birds of Africa, vol. 4. Academic Press, London.

URBAN, E.K., FRY, C.H. and KEITH, S. (1997) The Birds of Africa, vol. 5. Academic Press, London.

FRY, C.H. and KEITH, S. (2000) The Birds of Africa, vol. 6. Academic Press, London.

FRY, C.H. and KEITH, S. (2004) The Birds of Africa, vol. 7. Christopher Helm, London.

Contacts

Wed, 01/23/2013 - 18:09 -- 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

Joost Brouwer,

Brouwer Environmental & Agricultural Consultancy,
Wildekamp 32,

6721 JD Bennekom,
The Netherlands.
BrouwerEAC@wanadoo.nl

Clubs

There are no nature clubs in Niger as far as we know.

Conservation

Wed, 01/23/2013 - 18:09 -- abc_admin

Since 1993 the national policy on natural resource management in Niger has been the responsibility of the Cellule de Gestion des Resources Naturelles (Natural Resource Management Unit), which comes under the Sous-Comité Interministériel chargé de la politique de Dévelopement Rural au Niger (Inter-ministerial Sub-committee for Rural Development). Protected areas are administered by the Direction de la Faune, de la Pêche et de la Pisciculture (DFPP) of the Ministère de l'Hydraulique et de l'Environnement (MHE). The implementation of management plans for protected areas is the responsibility of the DFPP's Service d'Aménagement de la Faune et de l'Apiculture (SAFA). However, its means are limited; although there has since been a limited increase in numbers, in 1987 only 40 people were responsible for guarding and managing wildlife throughout the country. In addition, the remit of the Ministère de l'Agriculture et de l'Elevage means it, too, is much involved with land use issues and thus, various aspects of biodiversity conservation.

The following categories of protected area are currently recognised in Niger:

Parc National There is one national park, the Parc National du 'W', 220,000 ha (IBA NE001);

Reserve Naturelle Nationale There is one national natural reserve, the RNN Aïr-Ténéré, 7,736,000 ha, (IBA NE011), which includes the RI Sanctuaire des Addax;

Reserve Intégrale There is one strict reserve, the Sanctuaire des Addax, 1,280,500 ha, which lies within the RNN Aïr-Ténéré;

Reserve Total de Faune There are two total faunal reserves, RTF Tamou, 77,740 ha (buffer zone for PN du 'W') and Gadabeji, 76,000 ha (part RTF, part Forêt Classée);

Reserve Partiel de Faune There is one partial faunal reserve, PFR Dosso, 306,000 ha (buffer zone for PN du 'W').

At present, therefore, the protected area system in Niger comprises a national park and five reserves (one entirely enclosed within a second), which cover about 7% of the country. A proposal is being considered by government to set up an authority to raise funds and manage as a single unit 'W' National Park in Niger and the contiguous national parks of the same name in Burkina Faso and Benin.

In addition, between 1937 and 1956-79 Forêts Classées (forest reserves) totalling 212,000 ha, and 51 restoration and land protection areas (total 69,000 ha) were created, which have had varying degrees of success. These 130 areas fall under the Direction de l'Environnment of the MHE.

Wild natural resources are not owned by anyone and as wildlife is often perceived not to be useful, little reason is seen for conserving fauna or its habitat. On the other hand, there is recognition by older people of the value of conserving certain species of birds and mammals for the benefit of their descendants. A few sacred forests still exist, mostly in the Gourmantché region in the extreme south-west. Plants and animals are also appreciated as sources of traditional medicine and as environmental indicators. For instance, in large parts of Niger the arrival of migrant Abdim Storks Ciconia abdimii signals that the rains are about to arrive and that the fields should be prepared for the new cropping season.

Environmental legislation in Niger is based primarily on French colonial laws and where these are lacking, on traditional and Islamic law. Laws exist for the protection and use of water, soils, forests and trees on arable land, flora and fauna, but implementation and enforcement remain a problem. Hunting was largely banned in 1974 but has, since 1996, been legalised again on a much wider scale and as such, represents a significant threat to fauna throughout the country. Illegal hunting is a serious problem. Conflicts between farmers and pastoralists over scarce resources, such as grazing land and access to wetlands are ever more common. Traditional management structures are no longer adequate because of social, cultural, demographic and environmental changes. The Code Rural is meant to define rural property ownership issues as well as to regulate rural land use and use of resources such as forests, fish and wildlife. This piece of legislation is extremely important for the sustainable management of all natural resources.

Niger has ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on Migratory Species, CITES, the Convention to Combat Desertification, the Convention on Climate Change, the World Heritage Convention, under which two sites, W National Park and the Aïr and Teneré Natural Reserves have been designated, and the Ramsar Convention under which four sites have been designated. Niger has also signed the African - Eurasian Waterfowl Agreement. Regionally, Niger has signed the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. In addition, Niger is party to the Convention on Game Hunting and the Convention on Plant Protection.

Conservation News

12th March 2012: Niger creates the largest protected area in Africa

More than a decade’s efforts were crowned today when Niger’s Council of Ministers decreed the formal establishment of the Termit & Tin Toumma National Nature and Cultural Reserve. At 100,000 km2 (38,610 sq. ml) the reserve is one of the biggest in Africa. Created to conserve some of the world’s rarest desert species, like the addax, dama gazelle, cheetah and Barbary sheep, it also contains a large variety of desert habitats, ranging from mountains and valleys to grassy plains, open desert and sand seas. The inclusion in its title of both “natural” and “cultural” underlines the fundamental interrelatedness of both ecological and social aspects in the reserve’s management. Bird-wise, the core area of the reserve, the Termit range is an excellent place to see Sahara and Sahel biome species, as well as migrants from the Palearctic. A six-day stay at Termit in September 2011 turned up 78 species, of which more than 40 migrants from Europe and Asia.

Création de la plus grande aire protégée d'Afrique au Niger

Plus d'une dizaine d'années d'effort a été couronné aujourd'hui par la signature du décret lors du conseil des Ministres au Niger faisant acte de la création de la Réserve Naturelle et Culturelle Nationale de Termit et de Tin Toumma. Avec environ 100 000 km2, il s'agit d'une des réserves les plus grandes d'Afrique. Créée pour conserver certaines des espèces désertiques les plus rares de la Planète, telles que l'addax, la gazelle dama, le guépard saharien et le mouflon à manchettes, la réserve possède également une large variété d'habitats désertiques, allant des montagnes au prairies herbeuses en passant par les mers de sable et autres cordons dunaires. Les références dans son appellation de "naturelle" et "culturelle" souligne l'interrelation fondamentale qu'il existe entre les aspects écologiques et anthropiques pour la gestion de la réserve. Concernant l'avifaune, le massif de Termit, situé au cœur de la nouvelle Réserve, constitue un excellent site d'observation pour les espèces caractéristiques du Sahara et du Sahel ainsi que pour les oiseaux migrateurs du Paléarctique.  Pendant un séjour de six jours dans le massif de Termit en septembre 2011, 78 espèces d'oiseaux dont plus de 40 migratrices de l'Europe et de l'Asie ont pu être observées.

Books & Sounds

Wed, 01/23/2013 - 18:08 -- 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.

 

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.

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.

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.

Visiting

Wed, 01/23/2013 - 18:05 -- abc_admin

Birding tours

There are no birding tours at present to or in Niger

Government agencies

The Government agency in Niger most concerned with birds is the Department de la Faune, de la Pêche et de la Pisciculture (DFPP), BP 721, Niamey. They will certainly be interested if you drop in to let them know that you are doing some serious birding in Niger. The director may still be M. Seyni Seydou, waterbird count coordinator Abdou Malam Issa. Telephone (+227) 73 33 29, 73 40 69, fax 73 27 84, 73 55 91, e-mail faune@intnet.ne (or cresa@intnet.ne or ucndmepd@intnet.ne: indicate in the Subject window who the message is for). Communication is not easy, also because the phone is often only for receiving calls, not for making them.

The annual waterbird counts, part of the African Waterbird Census, take place all over the country in January and February each year. Check with Abdou Malam Issa for Niger and with the Wetlands International office in Dakar for other countries if you are interested in contributing: wetlands@telecomplus.sn

Guides

We know of no specific birding guides in Niger. Official guides in Parc National du W and in the Aïr-Ténéré may have some knowledge of birds. In Parc National du W in the 1990s I always asked for Abdou le Burkinabé, who was very interested and good at finding birds.

For identifying plants there is the Flore du Sénégal, and the GTZ Trees of the Sahel book. The latter has found an equivalent in 'Trees, shrubs and lianas of West African dry zones' by ARBONNIER, M. CIRAD/CTA/Margraf/MNHN, 2004. 577 pp. ISBN 2-8761-4579-0. French and English versions available. There also exists, though it is no longer for sale,"A vegetative key to the trees and shrubs of the Sahel", by Chris Geerling from The Netherlands.

Trip reports

We are not aware of any birding trip reports for Niger

Maps

Various useful thematic maps of Niger (and Benin) can be found at thematic maps. These include a rainfall and bio-climatic zone map at climatic maps.

For an overview of West and North Africa I suggest Michelin map no. 953. Most topographical maps are made by or with the assistance of the Institut Géographique National in Paris (IGN). You can order some maps there. For others you may need permission from the country involved, or you have to buy them in the country itself. IGN used to be at 136bis, Rue de Grenelle, Paris (VIIe), but they have moved and you should be able to find them via the website. In Niger the salespoint is at the Cadastre in Niamey, quite close to the Rondpoint de la Justice. Available series are:

1:1,000,000, Cartes internationales du monde. About 10 Euro each?

1:200,000 of Niger, and I assume of other countries.

Most cover a one degree square, sometimes a bit more or a bit less near the borders of the country. Most maps are based on aerial photographs taken in the 70s, so the roads are not always exactly where indicated on the maps. Note that the maps for Niger of areas near the border often show nothing at all of the neighbouring country: the rest of the square is simply left blank. These maps are extremely useful to have with you when you go off the main roads, and for determining coordinates for submission of your observations to the Niger Bird Data Base (unless you travel with a GPS of course).

There are also a few maps of 1:100,000 and 1:50,000, but only of more populated areas.

Logistics

Independent birders can fly into Niamey from Paris with Air France, or into Niamey and Agadez from Paris, Marseile or Toulouse with Point-Afrique. Point-Afrique also organises tours to Niger, especially to the drier parts including Aïr-Ténéré, but also to Parc National du W. There are most likely also other companies that offer flights and / or tours to Niger.

Travel by car on sealed roads from Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria and eastern Mali (Gao) is also possible. I have no information on crossing the Sahara through Algeria down to Arlit and Agadez.

See the IBA section for logistical information for each site mentioned there.

The local currency is the CFA Franc at approximately 550 to the Euro.

Safety

A few words of caution. When visiting Niger you should of course take the necessary preventative measures against various tropical diseases. These include watching under what cover you sleep and being careful about what you eat and drink. Getting malaria or any of various intestinal parasites is no joke. Though you are not likely to see many, don't fool around with snakes or other potentially dangerous animals. Also don't travel outside the towns or villages at night if you can avoid it, whether by public transport or by private car. Livestock straying onto the road at night still regularly means the end of a vehicle and its occupants. In some areas near the borders an armed hold-up is also possible after dark. For up-to-date security information in Niamey and country areas, always consult the hotel staff, police or army. Admittedly, this is often unnecessary: Niger is as safe as any African country. But it is such a simple precaution to take in a country you are still getting to know.

Some key points warrant repetition here for most African countries: (1) 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) be aware of the 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 2 websites or your own country's embassy website for the latest safety and travel information: US Travel and UK FCO. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs for example may have a similar website.

Hotspots

Wed, 01/23/2013 - 18:04 -- abc_admin
Rice_fields_from_the_air_Niger

Rice fields from the air, Niger River, Ndounga, 10 km south of Niamey

Image Credit: 
Joost Brouwer

The IBA section should be consulted for site and logistics details.

Other good birding spots in and around the capital, Niamey.

The irrigation areas around Niamey are always nice to go bird watching. One can take the road to Kollo and a bit beyond to Sibéri and turn into the irrigation areas along the river anywhere. Especially good is the Saga irrigation area (13°27'N 02°09'E ) only 7 km from the centre of Niamey. Take the Kollo road and 1-2 km past Saga, turn right where you see a canal with a large pumping station at the other end or take a bush taxi to this point. Just drive or walk around. There are lovely little wetlands in various low-lying places, although these, too, are being reclaimed little by little. More than 110 species have been recorded here, including Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio and Allen's Gallinule and P. alleni, Greater Painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis and Great Snipe Gallinago media, as well as bee-eaters, rollers and kingfishers.

You can also go to the Goudel irrigation area (13°32'N 02°02'E) on the northern side of town. Drive or take a taxi to Goudel and turn left into the irrigation area either just before or a bit after the Hotel les Rôniers. The irrigation area on the right bank (rive droite) immediately to the south of the Kennedy Bridge in Niamey (13°29'N 02°06'E) is also quite nice and within walking distance from the hotels in the centre of town. Just check about walking back to your hotel after dark.

Good bush and tiger bush habitat can be found along the sealed road to Torodi and Ouagadougou. On the Torodi road there are three small hills just beyond the checkpoint outside Niamey (13°29'N 02°03'E) not rich in species but they may provide Fox Kestrel Falco alopex, Spotted Eagle Owl Bubo africanus, Plain Nightjar Caprimulgus inornatus and Blackstart Cercomela melanura. Further along the same Torodi road 15 km out of town, there is excellent tigerbush (13°29'N 02°02'E) with a good chance of e.g. Savile's Bustard Eupodotis savilei. During the rainy season you will no doubt hear this species' piping call long before you see it. You may also see Quail-plover Ortyxelos meiffreni or Bronze-winged Courser Rhinoptilus chalcopterus. Just before Kobadié there is a lovely wetland a couple of hundred metres off the road on the west side. Park your car or hop off the bush taxi before the bridge just north of the town. I hope the tall Kayacedra senegalensis trees haven't all been cut in the meanwhile.

There is similar bush habitat along the sealed road to Say. For a great wetland area take the run-off east to ICRISAT Sahelian Centre about 35 km along the Say road, continue on about 6 km past the entrance to ICRISAT (the road veers north-east at the corner of the fence) and just before you go down to Dougel Kaina on the river turn right to a disused irrigation area below the cliffs (13°16'N 02°20'E). Park your car and just walk around in this lovely spot for waterbirds and colourful bush birds. A 4WD vehicle is normally not necessary unless there has been much rain.

Another pleasant drive is through the Dallol Bosso. For this trip go 70 km along the road to Dosso to Birni Gaouré, north for 80 km via the gravel road on the left just the other side of Birni to Yéni and Baléyara (through the Dallol Bosso), and then the sealed road 110 km back to Niamey. You are virtually guaranteed to see Fox Kestrels Falco alopex at the various cliffs in the Dallol and during the rainy season various species of swallows and swifts that nest in hollows in the cliffs. There will be lots of other birds, too. During the dry season you could perhaps try this drive in a sedan (turn back if it gets too tricky), but during the rains you will need a 4WD for sure.

Species

Wed, 01/23/2013 - 18:03 -- abc_admin

Country checklist and status

You can download and print a checklist for Niger.

The state of birding in Niger Ornithological knowledge of Niger up until 1986 was summarised by Giraudoux et al. (1988), in their 'Avifaune du Niger'. Historical information cited by them includes the following pre-World War II sources: Hartert (1921 and 1924, on Capt. Buchanan's expedition in 1920); Bannerman (1931); Bates (1933 and 1934); Paludan (1936, on Olufsen's expedition in 1927); and Rousselot (1947).

Given that Niger is land-locked and mostly arid, its avifauna is remarkably rich. Giraudoux and colleagues listed a total of 473 species for the country. Dowsett and Dowsett-Lemaire (1993) mentioned a further 9 species for a total of 482. The unofficial list for Niger has since grown to approximately 530 species. Of these 367 species (69%) are thought to be at least partially resident, 84 (16%) are thought to be at least partially intra-African migrants and 171 (32%) are at least partially Palearctic migrants. As the percentages indicate, some species have resident as well as migratory populations. Under the harsh and variable conditions that prevail in most of Niger, many of the species usually considered to be fully resident probably also show at least some mobility in response to changes in seasonal or local conditions but much remains to be discovered about that. By and large, migratory bird species in Niger can for now be divided into the following groups: Afrotropical species coming north to spend the wet season in Niger, either to breed or following breeding further south; Afrotropical species breeding near the edge of the Sahara and spending the dry season in the Sahelian and / or Sudanian zones; Palearctic species coming to spend the northern winter in various parts of Niger; and Palearctic species passing through once a year on a loop migration, or twice a year on their way to and from wintering quarters further south.

Paleotropical and Afro-tropical bird families that are represented in Niger include Hamerkop Scopus umbretta, Secretary Bird Sagittarius serpentarius, African Finfoot Podica senegalensis, parrots, turacos, mousebirds, bee-eaters, rollers, wood-hoopoes, hornbills, barbets, honeyguides, sunbirds, bush-shrikes, oxpeckers, weavers, waxbills, indigobirds and whydahs. Giraudoux and colleagues mention breeding evidence for only 135 species, a little over one-third of the number of species thought to be at least partially resident in Niger. Again, bird-wise much indeed remains to be discovered in this country!

One habitat in Niger that much more has become known about recently is its more than one thousand wetlands, a pleasantly surprising feature in this low-rainfall country. Regular bird counts have been carried out at these wetlands since 1992, mostly during fieldwork for the African Waterbird Census in January and February of each year. More than 100 species of waterbird and almost forty species of raptor have been recorded during these counts. Slightly over half of the waterbird species are (partial) migrants from Eurasia. The average total number of waterbirds on Niger's wetlands in January and February is estimated to be 1.1 million (Brouwer and Mullié 2001).

Additional monthly waterbird counts have been organised by the US Peace Corps, along the Niger and Mékrou Rivers in Parc National du W (Ambagis et al. 2003). The Parc du W is perhaps the best birded area in Niger, with more than 350 species recorded so far (Crisler et al. 2003). In terms of birding effort it is only rivalled by nearby Makalondi off the main road to Burkina Faso: Pierre Souvairan lived there for thirty years and recorded 310 species.

Endemic species

There are no endemic or near endemic species in Niger.

Threatened species

Five species of global conservation concern are known or thought to occur in Niger. Of these, three are seasonal migrants from the Palearctic. Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca occurs in small numbers on several wetlands (a flock of 26 is the maximum reported). Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus is seen during the northern winter in ones and twos over natural vegetation throughout Niger. Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni has a similar distribution to C. macrourus, though it is less common and perhaps remains slightly further north. The remaining two species of global conservation concern are presumed to be resident. Nubian Bustard Neotis nuba has strongholds in the Aïr and in the Dilia de Lagané. The status of the River Prinia Prinia fluviatilis is unclear. The species was described by Chappuis (1974) from 'south of Gao, Niger' while in Urban et al. (1997) the relevant locality information is given as 'Mali (Niger R. between Tillabéri and Gao)'. Since Gao is in Mali and Tillabéri is in Niger, it remains uncertain whether the species has been recorded from Niger. Even if not, it is, however, likely that it does occur as there is plenty of suitable habitat particularly in the Ayorou area, between Tillabéri and international frontier with Mali. River Prinia Prinia fluviatilis may also be found to occur along the Komadougou Yobé River near Lake Chad.

Important Bird Areas

Wed, 01/23/2013 - 18:02 -- abc_admin
Waterlilies_and_Mytragyna_Niger

Waterlilies and Mytragyna, Kobadié, 40 km south-west of Niamey, Niger

Image Credit: 
Joost Brouwer
Lassouri_Niger

Lassouri, Niger

Image Credit: 
Wim Mullié

Lists of species and maximum counts found at each IBA mentioned below can be downloaded in a spreadsheet from Niger IBA checklist. Additional sites close to Niamey that are good for birding are mentioned in the section - Visiting.

See also Malimbus Niger for references to a number of articles on the birds of Niger and in particular An updated overview of the birds of W National Park, southwest Niger by T. Crisler, C. Jameson & J. Brouwer, Seasonal waterbird and raptor fluctuations on the Niger and Mékrou Rivers in Niger by J. Ambagis, J. Brouwer & C. Jameson and The birds of the northern Aïr, Niger by J. Newby, J. Grettenberger & J. Watkins.

Fifteen Important Bird Areas (IBAs) have been identified with assistance from BirdLife International. Occurrence of biome species in these IBAs is as follows:

Table 1. Sudan and Guinea Savanna biome species

1 = present

Species

 

IBA

     
   

001

002

007

014

Fox Kestrel

Falco alopex

 

1

1

1

Senegal Parrot

Poicephalus senegalus

1

1

   

Violet Turaco

Musophaga violacea

1

     

Red-throated Bee-eater

Merops bulocki

1

1

   

Blue-bellied Roller

Coracias cyanogaster

1

     

Bearded Barbet

Lybius dubius

1

1

   

Sun Lark

Galerida modesta

1

1

   

Pied-winged Swallow

Hirundo leucosoma

1

     

Yellow-billed Shrike

Corvinella corvina

1

1

   

White-crowned Robin-Chat

Cossypha albicapilla

1

     

White-fronted Black Chat

Myrmecocichla albifrons

1

     

Blackcap Babbler

Turdoides reinwardtii

 

1

   

Red-pate Cisticola

Cisticola ruficeps

       

Oriole Warbler

Hypergerus atriceps

1

     

Senegal Eremomela

Eremomela pusilla

1

1

   

Gambaga Flycatcher

Muscicapa gambagae

       

Red-winged Pytilia

Pytilia phoenicoptera

1

     

Black-faced Firefinch

Lagonosticta larvata

1

1

   

Lavender Waxbill

Estrilda caerulescens

1

1

   

Black-rumped Waxbill

Estrilda troglodytes

1

1

   

Bush Petronia

Petronia dentata

1

1

1

 

Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver

Plocepasser superciliosus

1

1

   

Heuglin's Masked Weaver

Ploceus heuglini

1

     

Purple Glossy Starling

Lamprotornis purpureus

1

1

   

Bronze-tailed Glossy Starling

Lamprotornis chalcurus

 

1

   

Piapiac

Ptilostomus afer

1

1

   
           
 

Totals (of 26)

21

16

2

1

Table 2. Sahel biome species

1 = present
? = possibly present

 

Species

 

IBA

         
   

001

002

005

007

014

015

Nubian Bustard

Neotis nuba

       

1

1

Arabian Bustard

Ardeotis arabs

1

1

   

1

 

Savile's Bustard

Eupodotis savilei

1

1

 

1

   

African Collared Dove

Streptopelia roseogrisea

1

1

 

1

1

1

Golden Nightjar

Caprimulgus eximius

       

1

 

Yellow-breasted Barbet

Trachyphonus margaritatus

     

1

1

1

Little Grey Woodpecker

Dendropicos elachus

       

1

1

Kordofan Lark

Mirafra cordofanica

           

Rusty Bush Lark

Mirafra rufa

           

Dunn's Lark

Eremalauda dunni

       

1

 

Black Scrub-Robin

Cercotrichas podobe

1

1

 

1

1

1

River Prinia

Prinia fluviatilis

?

 

?

     

Cricket Warbler

Spiloptila clamans

       

1

1

Sennar Penduline Tit

Anthoscopus punctifrons

 

1

       

Sudan Golden Sparrow

Passer luteus

1

1

 

1

1

1

Chestnut-bellied Starling

Lamprotornis pulcher

1

1

 

1

1

1

               
 

Totals (of 16)

6

7

 

6

11

8

Table 3. Sahara biome species

1 = present
(v) = vagrant

Species

 

IBA

 
 
   

007

014

015

Sooty Falcon

Falco concolor

 
 

(v)

Spotted Sandgrouse

Pterocles senegallus

 
 

1

Crowned Sandgrouse

Pterocles coronatus

 
 

1

Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse

Pterocles lichtensteinii

 
 

1

Pharaoh's Eagle Owl

Bubo ascalaphus

 

1

1

Bar-tailed Lark

Ammomanes cincturus

 
 

1

Desert Lark

Ammomanes deserti

1

 

1

Greater Hoopoe-lark

Alaemon alaudipes

 

1

1

White-crowned Black Wheatear

Oenanthe leucopyga

 
 

1

Blackstart

Cercomela melanura

1

 

1

Fulvous Babbler

Turdoides fulvus

 

1

1

Trumpeter Finch

Bucanetes githaginea

 
 

1

Desert Sparrow

Passer simplex

 

1

1

   
 
 
 
 

Totals (of 13)

2

4

12

NE001 'W' National Park, 220,000 ha, coordinates 12°20'N 02°25'E, altitude 170-310 m

Site description

The 'W' National Park lies 150 km south of Niamey, at the point where Niger, Burkina Faso and Bénin come together. Together with the contiguous parks of the same name in Burkina Faso and Bénin, it forms the largest tract of wholly protected savanna in West Africa. In the north-east the Park's boundary is formed by the Niger river. The river here makes several sharp turns which together form the 'W' from which the Park takes its name. In the south the boundary of the Park is formed by the Mékrou river (with Bénin on the other bank), in the west by the international border with Burkina Faso, and in the north by the Tapoa river. Average annual rainfall in the Park during 1961-1990 was approx. 700 mm.

Large parts of the Park are quite rocky, caused by the outcropping of metamorphic Precambrian rocks (e.g. quartzites, schists and gneisses). In certain areas these are overlaid by Tertiary sediments which give rise to the quite wide-spread laterite-capped plateaux in the Park. Along the three rivers there are Quaternary alluvial floodplains. The vegetation is predominantly wooded savanna and shrubland, transitional between the Sahelian and Sudanian savanna types, and a small amount of grassland. In addition to the floodplains along the Niger river, there are gallery forests along its main tributaries, and a number of ephemeral pools and wetlands in the upland areas.

The area which is now occupied by the Park was first identified as a future reserve in 1926. It was created as the first reserve in Niger in 1937, classified as a Total Fauna Reserve in 1953, and decreed a National Park in 1954. The villages still existing in the Park were relocated several years later. In 1962 two reserves adjoining the Park were created as buffer zones: across the Niger river to the north-east the Partial Reserve (PR) of Dosso (306,000 ha), and north of the Tapoa river the Total Fauna Reserve (TFR) of Tamou. The PR of Dosso lies between the Niger river to its south-west, the road from Kirtachi (12°48'N, 2°30'E) on the Niger river to Hilikoye Kouara (12°53'N, 3°10'E) on the Dosso-Gaya road to its north, and the Dosso-Gaya road to its east. This partial reserve is now heavily populated and part of the Man and Biosphere Reserve of 'W'. At the time of its creation the TFR of Tamou measured 143,000 ha, and settlement was prohibited. Recognition of the presence of significant settlements led to its size being reduced to 76,000 ha in 1976. Park personnel are meant to regulate agricultural land use in the Reserve.

Because of its floodplains along the Niger, Tapoa and Mékrou rivers, the 'W' National Park was in 1987 designated a Wetland of International Importance according to the Ramsar Convention. The Park is best know for its large mammals. A total of 82 species of mammal have been identified, including Elephant Loxodonta africana, Lion Panthera leo, Leopard Panthera pardus, Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus, Hippo Hippopotamus amphibius, Buffalo Syncerus caffer and eleven species of antelope. Of these the large grazers are most easily seen. Manatee Trichechus senegalensis occur there, too, as do Crocodiles Crocodylus niloticus, but you have to be extremely lucky to see them, or the big cats.

An initial long-term management plan drafted in 1982, sought to address the issues of poaching and disturbance, burning by poachers and pastoralists, illegal grazing (made possible by eradication of tsetse fly; up to 10 - 15,000 head of cattle are thought to be present illegally during the wet season), illegal cutting of trees and collection of other natural products, illegal fishing, construction of new roads and tourism in 'W' National Park. However, this management plan has not been followed up. Other threats include the mining of phosphate and the construction of dams. In January 1999, the Niger and Benin governments signed an agreement concerning the construction of the Dyodyonga Hydroelectric Facility in the gorge in the Mékrou River on the southern boundary of the park (c12°18'N 2°37'E). In addition to the generation of electricity, it is intended that the project will allow the development of small and medium-sized industries as well as the exploitation of mineral resources in the Mékrou area. The possible consequences of this on the park were unknown and had not, apparently, been addressed.

Birds

Full information on the birds of the 'W' National Park can be found in Crisler et al (2003), including estimates of abundance at different times of the year and breeding evidence. 352 species have been recorded of which at least 32 are intra-African wet season migrants (from further south in Africa), 68 intra-African dry season migrants (from nearer the Sahara or waterbirds dispersing after breeding elsewhere) and 64 dry-season migrants from Eurasia. The other species are of mixed or uncertain status with many showing seasonal differences in abundance. Per month most species were observed during November and December (234 and 239 respectively), fewest during September and October (174 and 183). In total, 82 species have been found breeding in the Park, with a clear peak in June-July-August and a secondary peak in December-January.

Of the 25 Sudano-Guinean species in Niger, 21 (84%) have been observed in the Park, which forms the main IBA for this biome in the country. Of these Blue-bellied Roller Coracias cyanogaster and Sun Lark Galerida modesta are dry season vagrants while Oriole Warbler Hypergerus atriceps is a rare dry season visitor. All 18 other species have been reported during both wet season and dry season and are proven or likely breeders in varying numbers. Of the 16 Sahelian species in Niger, 6 (38%) have been observed in the Park, mostly during the dry season and all only uncommonly to rarely. However, the Park and the Makalondi district IBA (002) are the only IBAs in the wintering range of some of the Sahelian species.

Within the 'W' National Park several species of conservation concern have also been observed. Although large numbers have not been seen, a systematic survey is likely to reveal that more than 30 Pallid Harriers Circus macrourus spend the Palearctic winter in the Park each year. Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni is a rare dry season visitor. There is a possible observation of River Prinia Prinia fluviatilis from January 1994, opposite Koro Goungou just north of the Park boundary, in a type of habitat that is also found inside the Park.

The various aquatic habitats in the Park are important for waterbirds. Waterbird counts were carried out from land in January 1993 at various points along the Niger, Mékrou and Tapoa rivers, as well as at some small inland wetlands. During January-February 1994-1997 the annual counts were made by boat along the Niger river from Koro Goungou to Boumba. In total 45 species of waterbird were observed during the survey. Of the individual birds the percentage of afrotropical origin varied between 22 and 100% (average 68%); the percentage of Palearctic origin varied between 0 and 78% (average 32%). The largest number of waterfowl counted during any one count was 10,337 in 1997 along the Niger river only. Further counts may well turn up more than 20,000 waterbirds.

Monthly counts of waterbirds were carried out by Peace Corps volunteers from 1995-1999. An initial analysis of the count results is presented in Ambagis et al (2003). In total 101 species of waterbirds and raptors were seen during these counts of which 73 more than once. Other significant observations of waterbirds include a group of 9 Black Storks Ciconia nigra at one of the small wetlands in January 1998. During the waterbird census in March 1997 1,412 Knob-billed Ducks Sarkidiornis melanotus, 7,979 White-faced Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna viduata and 325 Spur-winged Geese Plectropterus gambensis were counted on the river. The river is most important for Afro-tropical waterbirds towards the end of the dry season, i.e. April-May, but it may not be navigable then. There are also quite large populations of egrets etc. in the interior of the Park which have never been properly censused.

Logistics

'W' National Park can be reached by taking the sealed road on the right bank of the Niger River south to Say, and turning right onto a gravel road at a T-junction where the road into Say itself goes left. At Tamou, turn left onto the road to the Park proper. There is no public transport (bush taxi) beyond Tamou. The gravel roads can be rather corrugated during the dry and nearly impassable during the wet season when the Park is closed to visitors anyway. In the Park itself a 4WD is pretty much a necessity: almost all park roads have sections that an ordinary vehicle cannot negotiate at any time of year.

There is a large hotel and conference centre as well as a visitor centre at the entrance to the Park overlooking the Tapoa river. Within the Park there is, during the tourist season (November-May approximately), one site where tourists can spend the night in tents and be looked after fully. There are also some areas where tourists can camp privately. Bookings can be made from Niamey. For safety reasons tourists must be accompanied by a registered Park guide at all times when inside the Park. At least one of the guides, Abdou Burkinabé, was very good on birds during the 1990s. The telephone number at the park may still be (+227) 78 41 12 but it didn't always work.

A lovely guidebook to the Park has been produced by two Peace Corps volunteers (Jameson and Crisler 1996) and may still be available at the Park or in Niamey (tourist office or Niger Car). It includes short descriptions of the history, climate, geology and vegetation of the Park; a full list of birds and mammals (new species of birds have been added since!); and short descriptions and great drawings of the commoner species of plant, reptile, mammal and bird.

NE002 Makalondi District, 200,000 ha, coordinates 12°50'N 01°40'E, altitude 210-300 m

Site description

Makalondi district is the name used here for an area with a radius of approximately 25 km, centred on the border village of Makalondi, 100 km south-east of Niamey on the road to Burkina Faso. The area, which lies in the transition between the Sahel and Sudan zones, is relatively flat but there are a number of lateritic plateaux and flat-topped hills which rise 40 - 60 m above the surrounding land. The plateaux support a (degraded) tiger bush vegetation, while wooded savanna with dry thorn scrub as well as some large trees occurs in the lower-lying areas.

There are a number of temporary water courses which in places are lined by majestic Khaya senegalensis trees. During the dry season these water courses are reduced to a number of isolated wetlands that hold water for periods ranging from a few months to almost the whole year. They include the wetlands of the Goroubi River to the north and west, Balla Foulbé wetland 25 km to the north-east along the road to Tamou, and Koulbou wetlands 10 km south-east of Makalondi. The Koulbou wetlands are heavily vegetated with waterlilies, rushes and wild rice, as well as clumps of Mytragyna trees and some Khaya senegalensis.

A number of small villages occur throughout the district, mostly near the drainage lines. Subsistence farming is widespread with sorghum and millet the main crops. There are also numerous herds of cattle, sheep and goats. Average annual rainfall for the period 1961 - 1990 was approximately 600 mm. Main environmental threats in the district are the increasing pressure on natural resources including wetlands. This is caused by agricultural expansion due to demographic changes and possibly climatic changes as well.

Birds

See the tables at the beginning of this section for key biome species. In total, some 310 bird species were recorded in Makalondi district by Pierre Souvairan who lived and worked in the area from 1968 to 1998. The avifauna includes a number of species not known from nearby 'W' National Park (NE001). Of the Sahel biome species, this is the only site from which Sennar Penduline Tit Anthoscopus punctifrons has been reported (and breeding at that). The site is also important for Black Scrub-Robin Cercotrichas podobe (probably breeds) and, with Dallol Boboye (NE007), for Savile's Bustard Eupodotis savilei. The latter is resident at a density of approximately 1 pair per km2 in good quality shrubland and tiger bush. Chestnut-bellied Starling Lamprotornis pulcher definitely breeds in Makalondi district but is an extremely common species through sahelian Niger.

For the other Sahel biome species that show seasonal movements, Makalondi district is mainly a wintering area. The only observations in Niger of the Sudan and Guinea Savanna biome species Blackcap Babbler Turdoides reinwardtii and Bronze-tailed Glossy Starling Lamprotornis chalcurus, together with two of the three known records of Sun Lark Galerida modesta, are from this IBA. Except for Fox Kestrel Falco alopex, Black-faced Firefinch Lagonosticta larvata and Piapiac Ptilostomus afer (single records only), the other Sudan and Guinea Savanna biome species observed are present all year and are presumed to breed. In addition, there is one observation of a male Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca in March 1987 and several records of Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus during the dry season.

Logistics

Makalondi is easily reached from Niamey by taking the sealed road to Ouagadougou via Torodi. It is the last village before the border, the Niger Customs office can be found at its southern edge. You can get to Makalondi itself by public transport. Off the main road you can generally go by conventional vehicle during the dry season. Distances are considerable and you can easily get lost so walking long stretches is probably not a good idea.

There is no tourist accommodation in and around Makalondi that I know of, there are just the usual village shops. People at the Catholic Church just off the main road on the south-east side of Makalondi, or other local people, may be able to help you find a place to stay overnight or put up your tent.

^top

NE003 Kokoro wetland, c2,100 ha, coordinates 14°12'N 00°54'E, altitude 250 m

Site description

Kokoro wetland lies 150 km north-west of Niamey and 30 km north-east of Téra next to the village of Kokoro and 10 km west of Namga wetland (NE004). It is a large, shallow (0.5 - 1.0 m) wetland occupying part of an ancient valley surrounded by sand dunes, some granite outcrops of Precambrian age and flat-topped hills carved from Tertiary sediments. It is a semi-permanent wetland, containing water 7 - 12 months of the year. At its greatest extent it is 13 km long and occupies 2,100 ha. When I first visited Kokoro wetland one April I was stunned: 4 by 2 km of lush, brilliant green flooded pasture, studded with waterbirds and surrounded by palm trees, large rounded rocks and orange sand dunes, as well as fields and bush vegetation. It still hurts that my camera failed on that trip.

Between 1961and 1990 annual rainfall at Kokoro averaged approximately 380 mm. However, total rainfall at Kokoro varies enormously from year to year which affects the size of the wetland (from 700 to 1,800 ha at the times of the waterbird censuses). Historically, the valley probably fed into the Niger River, from which it is now blocked at its eastern end by sand dunes. The water of the wetland has been characterised as brackish and of neutral pH with low levels of nitrogen and high levels of phosphorus in the very sandy sediment. The substrate at the southern end contains a lot clay and is vegetated mostly with Ludwigia adscendens. There is also some Typha sp. in the south-east. The northern end is quite sandy and covered by e.g. Echinochloa obtusifolia and Cyperus distans. The relatively small amounts of deeper, open water contain waterlilies Nymphaea lotus and N. caerulea. At the western end there is a tree-covered floodplain several kilometres in length in which Acacia nilotica is the most common species. Smaller areas of floodplain with trees are also found at the eastern end and fringing the southern margin.

Kokoro wetland is owned by the government but may be used by the local population under supervision. Towards the end of the dry season, if the rains and run-off to the wetland have been good enough, Kokoro wetland virtually becomes a flooded meadow used heavily by cattle. Livestock increase the nutrient loading of the wetland and the phosphorus content of the sediments is relatively high. There is little doubt that this increases the primary and secondary production of the wetland but whether this is leading to eutrophication is not clear. Livestock also affect the vegetation through grazing or overgrazing and trampling.

The wetland is fished using cast nets and fixed lines, but not too intensively. The lake was stocked with fish in 1986 but only Protopterus annectens remains. Expansion of agricultural activities along the borders may be a future threat but in 1997 there was little sign of this. Similarly, the limited amount of collection of natural products did not appear to be having much impact. Sand dunes threaten the wetland at its northern border and have been the target of a dune-fixation programme. Hunting of waterbirds could become a problem although, as at many wetlands, the local population discourages hunting by outsiders. Kokoro and Namga wetlands were designated Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance in June 2001.

Birds

Although there are no doubt Sahel biome species and some Sahara biome species in the vicinity of Kokoro wetland, no records have yet been submitted. Waterbird counts made in Jan-Feb 1994 - 1999, and April 1997, are the only known ornithological data. Coverage was usually only partial, except when the water level was very low. In total, 44 species of waterbird have been recorded. In January 1999 the total count was 50,191. Kokoro is especially notable for the large number of Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio. Up to 775 have been recorded during the dry season. Quite remarkable was the change in composition of the waterbird population from February to April 1997 from mainly Palearctic to mainly afro-tropical. Notable count totals include 1,000 Fulvous Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna bicolor in February 1996, 2,500 White-faced Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna viduata in February 1995, 889 Spur-winged Geese Plectropterus gambensis in February 1997, 251 Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus in February 1995, up to 440 Knob-Billed Ducks Sarkidiornis melanotos and 257 Black-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus in February 1996. In addition, two Pallid Harriers Circus macrourus were seen in February 1997.

Logistics

Kokoro and Namga wetlands can be reached from Niamey by taking the road towards Tillabéri and crossing the Niger River after about 60 km by the Bac Farié ferry (the ferry is about 2 km from the Tillabri road). Continue north and west along the gravel road to Téra for another 100 km. Just before Téra turn right onto the road going north towards Bankilaré. After about 25 km, near Foneko, turn right onto the road going east to Kokoro. After about 20 km you will see Kokoro wetland on your right. Namga wetland is another 12 km further east along the same road. When road conditions are good a conventional vehicle, or the 'taxi brousse' (bush taxi) will get you to Kokoro. When not, a 4WD or a lot of patience is highly recommended.

There were no tourist facilities at either Kokoro or Namga when I was last there in 1997. However, Kokoro and Namga wetlands are presently (2004) the subjects of an integrated wetland management and development project as part of a GEF-financed migratory waterbird project for the African-Eurasian flyway so things may have changed. Basic supplies and accommodation can in any case be found in the town of Téra, about 50 km away.

NE004 Namga wetland, c. 600 ha, coordinates 14°11'N 01°02'E, altitude 250 m

Site description

Namga wetland lies 150 km north-west of Niamey and 40 km north-east of Téra, next to the village of Namga or Namaga and 10 km east of Kokoro wetland (NE003). Namga wetland is semi-permanent and up to several metres deep. During 1961 - 1990, annual rainfall averaged approximately 380 mm. However, total rainfall varies greatly from year to year, which affects the size of the wetland (from 400 to 500 ha at the times of the waterbird censuses). Historically, Namga wetland probably drained into the Niger River from which it is now blocked by sand dunes at its northern end. The water of the wetland has been characterised as somewhat brackish and of neutral pH, with average nitrogen and low phosphorus contents in the rather clayey sediment. The wetland has an abundant aquatic vegetation of Schoenoplectus subulatus and Cyperus distans along its margins, with Nymphaea lotus in deeper parts. Approximately 40% is open water. Along its eastern and southern edges and in the valleys that feed into it, there are areas of woodland which include Acacia nilotica, A. seyal, A. raddiana, Balanites aegyptiaca and Mitragyna inermis.

The wetland is owned by government but may be used by the local population under supervision. The wetland is used for grazing and watering of livestock. In addition there are some small gardens where gourds are grown. Some traditional hunting is also likely to take place. A number of dead vultures, mainly Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotus, found in 1995, indicates that poisoning of jackals probably occurs in the area.

Livestock coming to drink increase the nutrient loading, and thus the primary and secondary production of the wetland. Whether this is leading to eutrophication is not clear. Livestock also affect the vegetation through grazing or overgrazing and trampling. Expansion of agricultural activities along the borders may be a future threat but there is, at present, little sign of this. Similarly, the limited amount of collection of natural products does not appear to be having much impact. Hunting could become a problem although, as at many wetlands, the local population discourages outsiders coming to hunt. Namga and Kokoro (IBA 003) wetlands will be the subjects of an integrated wetland management and development project, as part of a GEF-financed migratory waterbird project for the African-Eurasian flyway. Kokoro and Namga wetlands were designated Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance in June 2001.

Birds

Waterbird counts made in Jan-Feb 1995 - 1998, and April 1997 and February 2000, are the only known ornithological data. In total, 54 species of waterbird were counted. In February 1997, 13,190 waterbirds were counted on an estimated 70% of the wetland and it is probable that numbers exceed 20,000 at times. Notable counts include 245 Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus in February 1998, 7,155 White-faced Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna viduata and 749 Knob-billed Ducks Sarkidiornis melanotus in February 1997, 179 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca, 241 Spur-winged Geese Plectropterus gambensis and 235 Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis in April 1997 and 781 Black-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus in February 2000.

Logistics

Kokoro and Namga wetlands can be reached from Niamey by taking the road towards Tillabéri and crossing the Niger River after about 60 km by the Bac Farié ferry (the ferry is about 2 km from the Tillabri road). Continue north and west along the gravel road to Téra for another 100 km. Just before Téra turn right onto the road going north towards Bankilaré. After about 25 km, near Foneko, turn right onto the road going east to Kokoro. After about 20 km you will see Kokoro wetland on your right. Namga wetland is another 12 km further east along the same road. When road conditions are good a conventional vehicle or the 'taxi brousse' (bush taxi) will get you to Kokoro. When not, a 4WD or a lot of patience is highly recommended. There were no tourist facilities at either Kokoro or Namga when I was last there in 1997. However, Kokoro and Namga wetlands are presently (2004) the subjects of an integrated wetland management and development project as part of a GEF-financed migratory waterbird project for the African-Eurasian flyway so things may have changed. Basic supplies and accommodation can in any case be found in the town of Téra, about 50 km away.

NE005 Ayorou, c10,000 ha, coordinates 14°40'N 0°55'E, altitude 210 m

Site description

That part of the Niger River often referred to as Ayorou lies south-west and south of the town of the same name, 220 km north-west of Niamey. The river here is relatively shallow, due to the presence at the surface of erosion-resistant Precambrian rocks, and up to 6 km wide, with numerous small islands as well as seasonally flooded areas. This local 'inner delta' covers about 10,000 ha. Its character varies greatly with the level of river water, which tends to be lowest just before the wet season from April to June and highest from December to January, since the inland delta of central Mali delays the arrival of maximum water levels by some four months. Vegetation on the islands consists mostly of grasses and herbs but also includes scattered trees such as Hyphaene thebaica. The riverine vegetation surrounding the islands includes Echinochloa, Cyperus and Sesbania spp. During the past twenty years, however, the river's regime has changed considerably due to the construction of dams and other off-takes upstream in Guinea and Mali. Average flows have decreased as have frequency and levels of flooding.

In addition to the influence of upstream dams and associated changes in hydrology, the Ayorou area is threatened by the proposed construction of a dam at Kandadji, immediately downstream. This proposal, for the generation of electricity and for water supply and irrigation purposes, has been under discussion since the 1960s. The various alternatives would result in a maximum water level of between 228 and 241 m above sea level effectively drowning the present area. There may, in future, also be detrimental effects from mining developments to the west, with a tarmac road and a permanent river crossing proposed just north of Ayorou. Increasing use of the area for cropping and for livestock production may also become a problem. Fishing is an important activity. The area is also used for watering and grazing of cattle. Grasses, some of them aquatic, are collected for cattle fodder. Agriculture takes place on a number of the islands. Hunting or poaching with shotguns is said to take place locally. The Ayorou area is best known for its Hippopotamus amphibius population which, together with the weekly market in the town of Ayorou, form a tourist attraction. Manatee Trichechus senegalensis also occur. Ayorou has been proposed as a protected area.

Birds

Although never systematically surveyed, Ayorou is believed to be of considerable importance for waterbirds. Very incomplete counts were undertaken in February 1995 and in April 1997 when 33 species of waterbird were recorded. The total number counted in February 1995 was 10,907, when only 5% of the area was censused. Noteworthy counts include 7,854 Knob-billed Ducks Sarkidiornis melanotos and 2,752 White-faced Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna viduata in February 1995, and 130 Black Crowned Cranes Balearica pavonina in February 1984. The little known River Prinia Prinia fluviatilis is likely to occur at Ayorou. The only large subpopulation of Black Crowned Crane Balearica pavonina between northern Cameroon and the Inner Delta in Mali breeds at isolated wetlands in north-west Niger and adjoining parts of Burkina Faso and Mali: Ayorou is likely to be important for this subpopulation during the dry season.

Logistics

Ayorou is an easy three-hour drive from Niamey following the sealed road along the Niger River to Tillabéri and then on to just short of the Mali border. There was a good hotel at Ayorou when I was last there in 1997: check in Niamey to make sure. Basic necessities can also be bought in Ayorou. You can barter to rent a local boat and boatman for one or more days. The boatman will make sure you don't get too close to the hippos.

NE006 Tillabéri roost, c8 ha, coordinates 14°11'N 01°29'E, altitude 200 m

Site description

The Tillabéri roost occupies a Eucalyptus woodlot in an area of irrigated rice on the floodplain of the Niger River near Daikaina, just east of Tillabéri. The woodlot is managed by the irrigation authority, ONAHA (Office National des Aménagements Hydro-Agricoles). In early 1997, felling of some of the trees commenced. As a result the birds appeared to have moved to an alternative wooded area 1-1.5 km to the south. In subsequent years the birds have moved back to the Eucalyptus woodlot. Both the original roost and the alternative roost should be given immediate protection. For unknown reasons, some species appeared to be declining in numbers even before the first roost site was disturbed. These include Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides and Little Egret Egretta garzetta. Because the site is so close to an urban centre, is sensitive to human activity and is important for, for example, the migratory Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus, its conservation could be made to have a significant impact in raising public awareness. The Département de la Faune, de la Pêche et de la Pisciculture was formulating a project proposal for this.

Birds

The first site was counted in February 1995 - 1998 while counts of the alternative roost, following its relocation as a result of human disturbance, took place in April 1997. In total, 35 species of waterbird have been observed at the roost and in immediately surrounding areas. Notable counts include 2,838 Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus, 5,581 Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis, 333 Black-crowned Night Herons Nycticorax nycticorax and 506 Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus in February 1995 and 1,132 Long-tailed Cormorants Phalacrocorax africanus in February 1996. In March 1998 14 Little Bitterns Ixobrychus minutus were seen. Total numbers counted were 11,868, 10,762, 5,667, and 3,541 in February 1995 - 1998 respectively.

Logistics

Tillabéri is an easy one-and-a-half hour drive following the sealed road from Niamey north-west along the Niger River. Approximately 5 km before Tillabéri you pass through the village of Daikaina. There are various turn-offs to the left into the irrigation area along the river. Ask one of the local people where the birds come to rest at night, or check at the Ministry of the Environment and Hydraulics office in Tillabéri itself. It is advisable to check precisely where the roost is, and then go back to count about an hour or hour-and-a-half before sundown. Basic supplies and accommodation can be found in Tillabéri.

NE007 Dallol Boboye, c70,000 ha, coordinates 14°00'N 03°10'E, altitude 200-300 m

Site description

The Dallol Boboye is the central part of the Dallol Bosso, a 'graben' or rift valley running north - south through the relatively flat south-west part of Niger, approximately 100 km east of Niamey. The dallol was one of the main valleys that, historically, drained parts of the far north of Niger and extreme eastern Mali. The site defined here extends from Filingué in the north to approximately 15 km south of Baléyara. The dallol in this section is 5 - 20 km wide and is bounded in many places by Tertiary sandstone cliffs ranging from less than 10 m to almost 100 m in height. The valley floor is mostly under permanent millet cultivation or a millet - fallow rotation. On the hills on either side there is more fallow land, some natural wooded savanna and thorn scrub vegetation, and also a number of lateritic plateaux with tiger bush vegetation. Although degraded in parts, some of the tiger bush is in excellent condition. The water table in the dallol is quite near the surface and locally feeds several small wetlands. There are also a few small wetlands which depend on run-off and which are therefore more temporary. Average annual rainfall during the period 1961 - 1990 varied from 350 mm at Filingué to 450 mm at Baléyara. Main threats appear to be increasing pressure on natural resources caused by demographic and possibly climatic changes. Increased direct disturbance of birds is potentially also a problem, especially for cave- and ledge-nesting species. Main conservation efforts need to focus on the cliff areas, where most of the species of interest are found.

Birds

More than 100 species of bird have been recorded in Dallol Boboye during only a few visits in 1993 - 1994 and it is likely that many more remain to be discovered in addition to the six Sahel biome species, two Sahara-Sindian biome species and two Sudan and Guinea Savanna biome species which breed in the Dallol (see the biome species tables at the start of this section). For one of the Sudan and Guinea Savanna biome species, Fox Kestrel Falco alopex, the Dallol Boboye is the main known locality in Niger, with pairs breeding at regular intervals along the cliffs. Other observations of interest include two Barbary Falcons Falco pelegrinoides on cliffs at Damana (13°55'N 3°06'E) in August 1993. Unidentified swifts, possibly African Black Swifts Apus barbatus, appear to nest at several cliffs in the Dallol during the rainy season. There is also some evidence that the Dallol functions as a migration route for birds, with for instance some 200 White-throated Bee-eaters Merops albicollis in small groups passing over on their way north in 15 minutes following a rain storm in early June 1994. At the cliffs near Filingué Barn Owls Tyto alba and Spotted Eagle Owls Bubo africanus can be heard or seen roosting in recesses. Desert Larks Ammomanes deserti breed there during the first half of the dry season, and in the steep-faces of dry river beds White-throated Bee-eaters Merops albicollis and Yellow-breasted Barbets Trachyphonus margaritatus breed during the middle of the rains.

Logistics

The relevant section of the Dallol Boboye is easily reached from Niamey. Take the road to Baléyara (100 km) and Filigué (220 km), which is sealed all the way but do venture off the sealed road too. About 10 km before Baléyara there is a gravel road leading south to Yéni, with a few good cliffs on the right (west) in the first 10 km. There are lovely cliffs at Damana on the way to Filigué, and the plateau to the south-west of Filingué, along the bush road west to Daouda-Bangou and Ouallam just before you get to the town itself, is also worth getting on to. It is a well-known spot locally for picnics and watching the sunset. If you are considering following that bush road all the way to Daouoda-Bangou, be warned: it is a very rough road indeed which at times seems to disappear altogether. We ourselves decided it was not worth the effort and turned back after 40 km or so. A day trip from Niamey to watch birds in this area is very possible, but an overnight trip is even better. Basic supplies and accommodation can be found in both Baléyara and Filigué.

NE008 Dan Doutchi wetland, c1,780 ha, coordinates 14°14'N 04°39'E, altitude 270 m

Site description

Situated in a fossil valley dating from the last ice age or earlier, Dan Doutchi was, prior to July 1974, a small temporary wetland surrounded by millet and sorghum fields. When the 1973 - 74 drought broke with torrential rains, this very wide and shallow part of the valley filled to form a permanent wetland. The wetland, located some 80 km north-west of Birni N'Konni and 350 km due east of Niamey, extends from the village of Tawèy to the village of Dan Doutchi, 6 km to the west. At its maximum it occupies approximately 1,780 ha with an average depth of 1.8 m. Average annual rainfall in the Dan Doutchi area for the period 1961 - 1990 was 420 mm but yearly variation is considerable. During the waterbird censuses in January-February, the area of the run-off dependent wetland varied accordingly from 450 to 1,500 ha. The water of the wetland has been characterised as somewhat brackish and alkaline, with average levels of nitrogen and low levels of phosphorus in the fairly sandy sediment. Aquatic vegetation is absent. Woody species along the edges of the wetland include Acacia nilotica and the exotic Eucalyptus camaldulensis.

The wetland is owned by government but may be used by the local population under supervision. Fishing is an important activity that takes place all year round using nets and traps, from gourd floats and boats. Fish species include Bagrus bayad, Oreochromis niloticus, Tilapia zillii, T. monodii, Lates niloticus, Clarias anguillaris, Schilbe spp., Alestes spp., Achenoglanis spp., Synodontis schall and Chrysichthys auratus. In addition to being smoked and dried locally, refrigerated lorries take part of the catch to Niamey, a distance by road of some 600 km. Each year, an estimated 80% of the land is exposed as water levels recede and is cultivated with e.g. Dolichos lablab beans, maize and cassava. During the later part of the dry season the wetland is also an important watering point for large numbers of livestock. There is no management plan other than yearly programmes to improve fish production. The Service d'Arrondisement d'Environnement is considering introducing the aquatic grass Echinochloa stagnina in order to improve breeding conditions for the fish. Erosion and sedimentation, caused by human activity in the catchment, threaten the wetland. There are also signs of salinisation in fields where crops are grown on residual moisture. Dan Doutchi has been suggested as a potential Ramsar site.

Birds

During counts in January 1992 - 1998, 55 species of waterbird were recorded at Dan Doutchi. Numbers of birds are largest, according to local farmers, in April - May. Significant counts include 376 Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus in January 1992, 1,500 European White Storks Ciconia ciconia and 509 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca in January 1993, and 470 Common Teal Anas crecca in January 1994. Also notable were the 10, 1411 and 450 African Swallow-tailed Kites Chelictinia riocourii observed at a roost in 1993 - 1995. One or two Pallid Harriers Circus macrourus were present each year and a single Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni was seen in January 1995. The largest number of waterbirds counted was 4,497 in January 1993.

Logistics

Dan Doutchi wetland is not easy to reach and a 4WD vehicle is a must. The best route is by taking the gravel road from Badeguicheri, halfway between Birni N'Konni and Tahoua, west via Illéla and Azao to Chanyassou (also marked on maps as Edir). Just past the village well there is an initially well defined track that leads south to Ambagoua at the northern end of Dan Doutchi wetland 20 km to the south. The track is extremely easy to lose and you are strongly advised to take a local boy from Illéla or Chanyassou as a guide. Agree on a price and other conditions such as food, water and lodging beforehand. Check with various people that the boy indeed knows the road, or talk to people at the SAE (Service d'Arrondissement d'Environnement) in Illéla. There are no facilities at Dan Doutchi wetland. Bring your supplies and equipment for an overnight stay with you. A visit for just the day means a lot of effort for relatively little return: you don't want to drive there or back in the dark and birding is of course best early and late in the day. When you arrive at the wetland introduce yourself in the local village so people will know why you are there.

NE009 Tchérassa Reservoir, c150 ha, coordinates 13°51'N 05°18'E, altitude 270 m

Site description

Tchérassa Reservoir, also known as Tyéra(s)sa, is a permanent reservoir which takes its name from the nearby village located 6 km north-east of the town of Birni N'Konni in southern Niger. Birni N'Konni lies about 450 km by sealed road to the east of Niamey. The Reservoir is filled by surface run-off and is used as a source of water for irrigation during the dry season. Average annual rainfall during the period 1961 - 1990 in the Birni N'Konni area was approximately 450 mm. However, rainfall totals differ considerably from year to year, which affects the size of the wetland: the surface area of the reservoir varied from 65 to 125 ha at the times of the waterbird censuses. The water of the wetland has been characterised as brackish and alkaline and low in nutrients.

The reservoir is owned by government but may be used by the local population under supervision. The local fishery produces an annual catch estimated at 25-30 tonnes; fish species include Clarias anguillaris, Oreochromis niloticus, Tilapia zillii, Protopterus annectens, Bagrus bayad, Auchenoglanis spp. and Schilbe mystus. Grazing and watering of livestock are also important as are market gardening, fruit growing and the cultivation of sugar cane. Given the lack of trees in the Birni N'Konni area, cutting of the adjoining Acacia nilotica riparian woodland seems a real possibility. At the very least there will be increased collection for firewood from there. The Direction Départemental de l'Environnement (DDE) would like to remove the dead trees from the reservoir itself to allow the easier movement of boats and the use of certain fishing equipment. Whether such removal would have any effect on the birds is unclear. The DDE would also like to increase fish production through the introduction of Lates niloticus and Heterotis sp. and wishes to combat invasion of the edges of the reservoir by sedges Cyperus spp.

Birds

The only thorough count of the Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis roost, which lies immediately downstream of the dam in a stand of Acacia nilotica, dates from 1994 when an estimated 15,000 were present. According to local inhabitants, the roost had then been in use for a number of years. The total number of waterbirds counted in 1994 was 18,025. In January 1995 2,100 White-faced Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna viduata were present. Two Pallid Harriers Circus macrourus were reported in February 1998. In total nearly 40 species of waterbird and 10 species of raptor have been reported from the Reservoir. It is not a top-of-the-bill place for birds, but it is quite pleasant for a morning or evening birding when you are spending the night in Birni N'Konni.

Logistics

Tchérassa Reservoir is easily reached from Birni N'Konni. Either drive to the village of Tchérassa, 6 km along the road to Maradi and Tahoua, or take a bush taxi there. Once there ask a local person how to get to nearby Tchérassa reservoir on the north side of the road. Make sure they don't send you to Nadabar or Mozagué Reservoirs, which are 10 km further out and on the south side of the road. In Birni N'Konni basic supplies and accommodation can be found.

NE010 Mozagué Reservoir, c1,300 ha, coordinates 13°54'N 05°27'E, altitude 275 m

Site description

Mozagué Reservoir is situated near the village of Mozagué or Mozagé, 20 km east of Birni N'Konni in an old river bed. The reservoir is filled by surface run-off during the rainy season and is used as a source of water for irrigation during the dry season. In the surrounding area there are outcrops of calcareous rocks. The maximum area of the reservoir is 1,300 ha but its extent is heavily dependent on recent rainfall; the reservoir is shallow (5 - 7 m) with gently sloping sides, such that levels fall quickly after the rains and water only lasts for about 8 months. Average annual rainfall in the Birni N'Konni area for the period 1961 - 1990 was approximately 450 mm with large yearly variation. At the times of the surveys in January-February, the water area of the reservoir measured only 10-50 hectares. The water of the reservoir has been characterised as brackish and alkaline, with low levels of nitrogen but very high levels of phosphorus in the quite clayey sediment. The reservoir supports no aquatic or woody vegetation and is entirely surrounded by farmland.

The reservoir is owned by government but may be used by the local population under supervision. The reservoir is heavily fished for Clarias anguillaris and Oreochromis niloticus using cast and set nets. Watering of livestock (cattle and sheep) is also important. There is a considerable amount of dry-season cultivation of e.g. Dolichos lablab beans and cassava utilising residual water in soil recently exposed ('culture de décrue'). Threats are poorly known but may include disturbance by the local population, both directly and through increasing use of the reservoir and its surroundings. The Direction Départemental de l'Environnement (DDE) wishes to plant Echinochloa stagnina along the reservoir edges as fodder for livestock and to introduce the fish Bagrus bayad.

Birds

Waterbirds have been counted at Mozagué in January 1993 - 1998 during which time 32 species were recorded. These include up to 1,000 Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus (in January 1995) and up to 2,350 Little Stints Calidris minuta (in January 1990). No doubt because of the large numbers of small fish present, five species of tern totalling 915 individuals were seen in January 1993, as well as Grey-headed Gulls Larus cirrocephalus (every visit) and Common Black-headed Gull L. ribidinus (once).

Logistics

Mozagué Reservoir is only a 25 km drive from Birni N'Konni, most of it along the sealed road to Maradi. About 6 or 8 km past the turn-off to Tahoua there should be a sign for Mozagué along a dirt road to the right, otherwise just ask a local person a bit past the Tahoua turn-off. The dirt road mentioned leads into Nigeria between the lower end of Mozagué Reservoir and the top end of Nadabar Reservoir (which is deeper, holds water for much longer, but usually has less birds). In Birni N'Konni basic supplies and accommodation can be found.

NE011 Lassouri-Karandi wetlands, c100 ha, coordinates 14°02'N 09°35'E, altitude 415 m

Site description

The Lassouri - Karandi wetlands are a complex of two semi-permanent wetlands, partly surrounded by a dune system, 8 km south-east of Damagaram-Taker and 70 km north-east of Zinder. Lassouri, also called Lassiri, is relatively deep and steep-sided with a maximum area of approximately 25 ha. Karandi, also called Galdimari, is very shallow and at its greatest extent occupies about 75 ha. They are filled by surface run-off but are probably also fed by groundwater originating in the surrounding dunes. Less than 1 km apart, Lassouri and Karandi are connected by open water when full but become isolated as water levels drop. According to local villagers the two wetlands dry out completely in most years. In 1997 they were almost dry by February. Average annual rainfall in the Lassouri area for the period 1961 - 1990 was approximately 300 mm but variation between years is large. The area of water during waterbird censuses in January-February varied from 11 to 20 ha for Lassouri and from 25 to 65 ha for Karandi.

The water of the wetlands has been characterised as somewhat brackish and alkaline with average levels of nitrogen and low levels of phosphorus in the very sandy sediment. Vegetation includes abundant Leptochloa flavescens and Cyperus alopecurioides with, at Karandi, also Nymphaea spp. and probably Echinochloa stagnina. Typha australis was introduced in 1995. The surrounding area, particularly north-east of Lassouri, supports some woodland consisting of Balanites aegyptiaca, Ziziphus mauritiana, Prosopis juliflora, Hyphaene thebaica and various fruit trees (lemon, guava, tamarind). Around Karandi there are fewer trees but those present include Acacia nilotica, Hyphaene thebaica and locally, Phoenix dactylifera.

The wetlands are owned by the government but may be used by the local population under supervision and the wetlands are much used for the grazing and watering of livestock. Other activities include crop growing on residual moisture and fishing for Clarias anguillaris and Protopterus annectens. There appear to be few immediate threats other than greater usage of the wetlands and / or their catchments due to increased demographic pressure.

Birds

Surveys were carried out at these wetlands in January and February 1993 - 1998, during which a total of 48 species of waterbird were recorded. Significant observations include 5 Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca, 1,600 Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata, 2,500 Northern Pintail A. acuta and 3,100 Garganey A. querquedula in January 1993, 200 Common Teal A. crecca in January 1995, and 1,600 Fulvous Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna bicolor in January 1996. Two Greater White-fronted Geese Anser albifrons were seen in January 1995. More than 7,000 waterbirds were counted at Lassouri - Karandi in three out of the six years including 1995 when coverage of Karandi, the largest wetland, was only 20%. What makes these two wetlands particularly interesting is their contrasting character, with dabbling ducks mostly present on Karandi and diving ducks, including rare species for Niger like Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis, Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope, Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula, and Common Pochard A. ferina, present on Lassouri.

Logistics

From Zinder drive north along the road to Tanout and after about 8 km turn right onto the gravel road to Damagaram-Taker. It is quite a pretty drive of about 60 km. In Damagaram-Taker ask for directions to Lassouri-Karandi which lie about 8 km to the south-east. A 4WD vehicle is recommended because of the sand on the last 8 km. A day trip from Zinder, where you can find accommodation and supplies, is certainly an option. You may also be able to find basic supplies and accommodation in Damagaram-Taker: we ourselves never tried.

NE012 Chiya wetland, c250 ha, coordinates 13°48'N 09°10'E, altitude 400 m

Site description

Chiya or Chia wetland lies 2 km north-east of the village of Chia-ta Inga, 10 km due north of the town of Miria or Mirriah and 15 km east of Zinder, in southern Niger. It is a rain-fed semi-permanent, shallow lake of up to 2 m in depth. Average annual rainfall in the Mirriah area for the period 1961 - 1990 was approximately 380 mm. However, there is enormous variation in rainfall between years which results in large annual differences in the size of the wetland. During our waterbird surveys the size of Chiya wetland ranged from 0 to 250 ha.

The water of the wetland has been characterised as somewhat brackish and alkaline, with average levels of nitrogen and low levels of phosphorus in the quite sandy sediment. Chiya supports an abundant vegetation of waterlilies Nymphaea lotus and wild rice Oryza longistaminata. Echinochloa spp., Neptunia oleracea and Ipomoea aquatica are also common. There are patches of water lettuce Pistia stratiotes. The woody vegetation surrounding the wetland consists of Acacia seyal, A. nilotica, A. albida, Adansonia digitata, Celtis diversifolia, Anogeissus leiocarpus, Piliostigma reticulatum, Hyphaene thebaica, Borassus aethiopum and Phoenix dactylifera.

Chiya wetland is owned by government but may be used by the local population under supervision. Cropping on residual moisture, watering of livestock and fishing for Protopterus annectens, Oreochromis niloticus and Clarias anguillaris are important activities. Potential further spread of Pistia stratiotes may affect the wetland. In addition, there are more general threats from increased utilisation of the wetland itself and of its catchment. This could lead to erosion and sedimentation problems. Trapping of European White Storks Ciconia ciconia, reported in the 1970s (see below) has apparently stopped.

Birds

Waterbird surveys have been undertaken at Chiya in January and February 1994 - 1998. A total of 36 species of waterbird was recorded. The number of waterbirds counted in January 1995, when only 50% of the wetland was surveyed, was 15,461, of which 11,600 were Northern Pintail Anas acuta. In addition 4,100 Garganey A. querquedula and 502 Northern Shoveler A. clypeata were counted in January 1994, 5 Common Pochard Aythya ferina and 3 Tufted Duck A. fuligula in January 1995 and a single Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla in March 1998. Giraudoux et al. (1988) mention up to 600 European White Storks Ciconia ciconia being seen at Chiya during the dry seasons of 1977 - 1978 and 1978 - 1979, when many were trapped by local hunters. Of the rings so far recovered four were from storks from Spain, one from Morocco, and one from Estonia. Giraudoux et al. make no mention of large numbers of Palearctic duck at Chiya while no storks were seen during the more recent surveys. This may point to a change in character of the wetland, or of migration patterns. Of species of global conservation concern, 5 Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca were seen in January 1995, a single Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus in January 1996, and a single Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni in February 1997.

Logistics

Chiya wetland is best visited from Zinder. Take the sealed road from Zinder south-east to Diffa for 20 km until just before Miria where there is an un-sealed turn-off left (north) to Chia-ta Inga. Ask for directions locally, it is only 7 km to the village and a further 2 to the wetland. A 4WD vehicle is recommended but it is also possible that bush taxis go to Chia-ta Inga. You can also take the bush road from Zinder due east to Gafati (12 km) and then on to Zermou. In Gafati ask for directions to Chiya wetland which lies 5 km further east and then 4 km south. Continuing on the bush road to Zermou and Mazamni takes you to Atchi wetland (see the site description below). In Zinder you can find accommodation and supplies. You may also be able to find basic supplies and accommodation in Miria: we ourselves never tried.

NE013 Atchi wetland, c800 ha, coordinates 13°58'N 09°28'E, altitude 435 m

Site description

Atchi wetland is a large, shallow, (semi-?) permanent wetland surrounded by relatively dense woody vegetation. It is located 2 km south-east of the town of Mazamni, 30 km north-north-west of Guidimouni and 55 km east-north-east of Zinder in southern Niger. The wetland is said to have formed in the mid 1980s, possibly following the cessation of the 1983 - 1984 drought, in a way similar to that by which Dan Doutchi wetland (NE008) was formed after the end of the 1973 - 1974 drought. Atchi wetland is dependent on surface run-off following rain and its maximum known extent is an estimated 800 ha. Average annual rainfall in the Mazamni area for the period 1961 - 1990 was approximately 320 mm but there is considerable yearly variation.

The water of the wetland has been characterised as fairly fresh and alkaline with high levels of nitrogen but low levels of phosphorus in the quite clayey sediment. The wetland is heavily vegetated. In January 1995 there was about 50 ha of Leptochloa flavescens and Ludwigia adscendens diffusa as well as some wild rice Oryza sp. and waterlilies Nymphaea lotus. According to local villagers, water lettuce Pistia stratiotes reached Atchi in about 1993 and, by 1995, had already spread over a considerable area. Open water was estimated to cover 200 ha then, while a further 400 ha supported riparian forest made up of Acacia nilotica, A. raddiana, Balanites aegyptiaca, Mitragyna inermis and Ziziphus mauritiana.

Atchi wetland is owned by government but may be used by the local population under supervision. There is much grazing and watering of livestock and some fishing using set lines and set nets. Fish species include Clarias anguillaris and Protopterus annectens. There is little market gardening around the perimeter, probably because the surrounding woody vegetation makes that difficult. Further spread of Pistia stratiotes may affect the wetland. In addition, there are more general threats from increased utilisation of the wetland itself and of its catchment. The remains of some ducks were found in the camps of fishermen, but were thought to have been caught unintentionally in nets.

Birds

The wetland was surveyed in January and February 1995 - 1998 during which time 26 species of waterbird were observed. In January 1995 14,216 waterbirds were counted on only 5% of the total area. Of these, 5,000 were Northern Pintail Anas acuta, 2,000 Garganey A. querquedula and 7,000 were unidentified ducks, probably also of Palearctic origin. As with many other wetlands in the region, Atchi's importance to birds varies greatly from year to year according to local and regional rainfall patterns.

Logistics

Atchi wetland is best visited from Zinder. Take the bush road from Zinder due east to Gafati and then on to Zermou and north-east to Mazamni and ask for directions in Mazamni. A 4WD vehicle is recommended but a bush taxi may also get you to Mazamni from where you can walk the 2 km to Atchi wetland. On the way you will pass close to Chiya wetland (site NE012 above) which lies about 6 km to the south-east of Gafati. A good option is a day trip to Atchi from Zinder where there is food and accommodation. I do not know what facilities there may be in Mazamni but there will not be much.

NE014 Dilia de Lagané, c100,000 ha, coordinates 15°10'N 12°10'E, altitude 300-380 m

Site description

The Dilia or Dillia de Lagané is a linear depression stretching some 200 km from the southern end of the Termit Massif south-east to Nguigmi - at the edge of the former extent of Lake Chad 1,500 km to the east of Niamey. The depression is probably a graben or structural depression, which carried water to Lake Chad during the last ice age when the climate was much wetter. The Dilia lies in a very sparsely populated area of low rainfall (annual average <200 mm for the period 1961 - 1990). Vegetation is sparse; much of the Dilia de Lagané lies in the northern Sahelian semi-desert grassland and shrubland zone, while the southern quarter falls within the Sahelian Acacia wooded grassland and deciduous woodland zone. Land use is probably restricted to nomadic and / or transhumance livestock rearing. With the legal resumption of hunting in Niger in 1996, it is likely that bustards are being hunted again. Even before 1996, foreign officials were reported to have visited the country for the express purpose of hunting bustards among other target species including with falcons.

Birds

What information there is on the birds of the Dilia de Lagané dates from a visit by Peter Jones in August 1975, whose observations were included in Giraudoux et al. (1988). Of the 16 Sahel biome species known from Niger, 11 were reported from the Dilia by Jones (see the table at the start of this section). Among other species three nests with eggs of the Nubian Bustard Neotis nuba were found. Arabian Bustards Ardeotis arabs were recorded on numerous occasions while a Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus was seen once. Of the other Sahel biome species, Golden Nightjar Caprimulgus eximius has been reported only from this IBA though the species is known to occur in a number of other places in Niger as well. Two Sahara-Sindian biome and one Sudan and Guinea Savanna biome species also occur in the Dilia (see the tables).

Logistics

Nguigmi is the most logical place from which to visit the Dilia de Lagané and basic accommodation and supplies should be available there. A 4WD vehicle is a must. In the Dilia itself you will probably not even find a vendor with candies or cigarettes, much less a shop, petrol station or garage. For the even more adventurous it is also possible to drive from Zinder or Tanout 400 or 300 km north-east to the Termit Massif, and from there 300 km south-east through the Dilia to Nguigmi. Either way, make sure you check about the security situation before setting off and while on the road.

NE015 Reserve Naturel National Aïr-Ténéré, c17,736,000 ha (Strict Nature Reserve 1,280,500 ha), coordinates 19°12'N 09°30'E, altitude 400-1988 m

Site description

The National Nature Reserve of the Aïr and the Ténéré covers the eastern half of the Aïr Massif and the western part of the Ténéré Desert. The Aïr massif reaches 2,022 m (1,988 m within the reserve). It was called the 'Switzerland' of Africa by the explorer Barth in 1850 and may be regarded as a Sahelian outpost in the Sahara. The Aïr-Ténéré forms a complex mosaic of arid and hyper-arid environments with truly stunning landscapes. Five principle habitats are recognised: mountains; plateaux; large wadis (dry water courses); small-scale irrigated horticultural areas; and stony or sandy desert. Standing water may occur for longer or shorter periods in all five habitats.

The National Nature Reserve of the Aïr and the Teneré was proclaimed in 1988. A Strict National Reserve, also called the Addax Sanctuary, was established within the boundaries of the Nature Reserve at the same time. The reserve also contains important archaeological and palaeontological sites. The two reserves were declared a World Heritage Site in 1991. The reserve belongs to the state which appoints the team responsible for its participatory management. The Niger Government, WWF and IUCN used to run a large development project in the reserve which sought the sustainable use of resources for the benefit of the inhabitants of the reserve and the preservation of their traditional activities of livestock raising, market gardening and transport by camel caravans. In addition, the project tried to develop new forms of sustainable utilisation of natural resources including tourism. The project had to be discontinued in 1990 because of armed rebellion. Moves to re-open the project began in 1997.

The reserve is one of the few places in the world where wild olive Olea laperrinei still occurs. Mammals of global conservation concern in the Aïr and Teneré include Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus (Vulnerable), Dorcas Gazelle Gazella dorcas (Vu), Dama Gazelle G. dama (Endangered) and Barbary Sheep Ammotragus lervia (Vu). Scimitar Oryx Oryx gazella dammah (EW) and Addax Addax nasomaculatus (Critical) used to occur but are presumed to do so no longer. Although little information is available, larger wildlife in particular is likely to have suffered from shooting and poaching during the period of rebellion, as well as at other times, including by the armed forces. The local population is much involved in the management project, and tries to maintain earlier achievements. There was, however, no formal management plan for the reserve; instead, two- or three-year programmes were formulated on a rolling basis. Other threats include tourist vehicles pursuing wildlife to obtain photographs, overgrazing, competition / disturbance by livestock, over- exploitation of firewood (near centres of population), the illegal commercial collection of wood and the failure of reserve authorities to obtain the full recognition of the reserve by other government departments.

Birds

See the tables at the start of this section for the 13 Sahara biome species and the 8 Sahel biome species found in the Aïr. Information on birds of the Aïr and Ténéré derives mainly from Newby et al. (1987) and Newby and Canney (1989?). The latter list 164 species for the Reserve. Of these, 41% are resident, 12% are intra-Africa migrants (mostly present only during the rains) with the remaining 46% wintering or passage migrants from the Palearctic. Nubian Bustard Neotis nuba is likely to breed and is present all year. Given the size of the reserve, the population is likely to be important; in 1989 there were 38 observations of at least 47 birds. The (northern) Aïr appears to be on a migration route of Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus among many other passerines and non-passerines with several observations from March and June. Other notable species include Ostrich Struthio camelus.

All 14 Sahara-Sindian biome species known from Niger have been reported (see the tables at the start of this section). Of these, 12 are resident breeders, Crowned Sandgrouse Pterocles coronatus is either resident or a breeding migrant while Sooty Falcon Falco concolor is merely a vagrant. Of the eight Sahelian biome species reported from the reserve, seven are breeding residents while Cricket Warbler Spiloptila clamans was only observed once. Arabian Bustard Ardeotis arabs, Golden Nightjar Caprimulgus eximius and Sennar Penduline Tit Anthoscopus punctifrons may also occur but have so far only been reported from nearby areas.

Logistics

Tourist tours mostly start from Agadez, to which there are direct flights from France. If you want to go on your own you will need a 4WD vehicle and a guide. Bookings can be made locally from Niamey and from Europe. Basic supplies and accommodation are available in Agadez.

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

Pages

Subscribe to Niger

Copyright © African Bird Club. All rights reserved.
UK registered charity 1053920

Southmedia

Web site designed and built by