DIOE Project (WIACO): from mapping the use of key sites in Senegal to establishing networks of counters for waterbird census

As part of the activities for the transition to phase II, the capacity development project for the conservation and monitoring of waterbirds along the West Africa coast (DIOE) engaged key players (park workers and volunteers) in September 2020 to collect information on the use of the sites located in the areas of the Saloum Delta and of the lower delta of the Senegal River. Indeed, two workshops organised at the Toubacouta Interpretation Centre (14-16 September) and at the Langue de Barbarie National Park (22-24 December) provided an opportunity for a number of resource persons with a reputation for being knowledgeable about the above two areas and the target sites to share and discuss data available on the use of key sites by coastal seabirds.

Coming within the framework of a participatory mapping process, the purpose of this information gathering was to evidence, based on recent data, the spatio-temporal and functional use of key sites in the Saloum Delta and the lower delta of the Senegal River by coastal waterbirds. In practice, this process is expected to yield deliverables in the form of maps illustrating each area and site and showing the key species of colonial or migratory waterbirds encountered there, with indication on the period of the year when these birds fly in and on what for (breeding, food, rest). Once they are finalised, these maps will prove quite useful for both site managers in discharging their daily activities and ecoguides in operating the sites for tourist purposes.

In order to strengthen and sustain the momentum created with the field training and the involvement of local community members in the census and monitoring of waterbirds, the DIOE project has launched discussions with the key players on the setting up and formalisation of networks of bird counters in the areas of the Saloum Delta and of the lower delta of the Senegal River.

The workshops on data collection for mapping the use of key sites by waterbirds served as a basis for discussion on the roadmap of the actions to be taken towards the final objective. It is expected that, in each target area, this process will ultimataely result in the creation of a legally established platform/group with a plan of action consisting of a range of stakeholders, namely protected areas managers, volunteers as well as private sector players. Not only will these networks provide a fertile ground for contributing local resources and skills to the census and periodic monitoring of waterbirds, but also allow for knowledge exchange and the development of activities on the census and monitoring of seabirds.