The challenge: to address the causes of biodiversity erosion in Senegal.
Senegal is an ecological frontier where semi-arid grasslands, waterfront and humid tropical forest meet, with a wide range of bioclimatic regions. Senegal’s climate is Sahelian, with a rainy season from June to October, and the country is bathed by the four major rivers – whose basin covers 37% of the country. Senegal has 46% of its land devoted to agriculture and 16% considered arable (cultivable in rainy conditions). Forests cover 42% of the total land area and the country also has 1,049 square kilometres of sand dunes along its coast and around 4,000 square kilometres of estuaries and mud flats.
This geographical situation has given Senegal great biodiversity. Although large mammals have disappeared from the western part of the country, after being displaced by human settlements, animals such as elephants, antelopes, lions, panthers, cheetahs and jackals can still be encountered in the Niokolo Koba National Park – a World Heritage Site – in the eastern part of the country. The Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981, contains more than a million birds, including the African spoonbill, purple heron, white pelican and cormorant. The Basse Casamance National Park, located in the southwestern part of the country, is home to hippos, leopards, crocodiles and water buffaloes.
Senegal’s National biodiversity action plan identifies several activities as the main causes of the loss of biodiversity. Among them, habitat destruction and fragmentation due to urbanisation, infrastructure development (dams), bush fires, overexploitation of natural resources (including illegal, unregulated and undeclared fishing), deforestation, overgrazing and poaching, invasive alien species, pollution (water, soil and air), climate change and bad weather, coastal erosion, and salinisation and acidification are all threats to Senegal’s biodiversity.