African plants research in Naturalis museum

This 8 November 2016 video says about itself:

Senegal: Villagers replanting mangroves to protect environment and their livelihood

Senegal is in danger of losing its mangrove forests because of droughts and climate change.

But under the Paris agreement to reduce global emissions, it is counting on funding to replant the mangroves.

Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque reports from Casamance.

During my 16 December 2019 visit to Naturalis museum, I met botanist Jan Wieringa.

On a table, he had old newspapers, with plants exhibited on top of them. They were plants found during an expedition along the Gambia river; in the Gambia, and then the upper river in Senegal.

There were branches, leaves and fruits of Diospyros ellioti. A plant species of which Naturalis had hardly any material, certainly not from Senegal.

On one old paper, also from Senegal, another species.

Mr Wieringa was figuring out which plants would stay in Naturalis and which ones would go to other museums.

‘Illegal’ African saves Spanish disabled man

This 12 December 2019 video says about itself:

Migrant rescues wheelchair-bound man from fire in Spain

A Senegalese migrant, Gorgui Lamine Sow, rescued a wheelchair-bound man from a burning building in the Spanish city of Denia recently. After hearing cries for help, Sow climbed into the burning building, hoisted the man on his shoulder and climbed down a balcony. Thereafter, he immediately left the scene fearing police action.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV, 11 December 2019:

Undocumented street vendor rescues disabled Spaniard from burning home

In the Spanish resort of Dénia, near Alicante, an African immigrant rescued a disabled man from his burning apartment. He did that last Friday, along with neighbours coming.

39-year-old Álex Caudeli Webster is in a wheelchair and could not flee quickly on his own when a stove caught fire in his home. He called for help, to which Senegalese street seller Gorgui Lamine Sow responded quickly. “I heard screams and immediately went inside,” he says to the newspaper El País.

Sow climbed in through the balcony, threw Webster over his shoulder, and then climbed out through the window. Local residents had meanwhile put a staircase under the balcony – that is how Sow managed to come down safely with Webster.

After the rescue, the hero had flown quickly; Sow is staying illegally in Spain and probably wanted to evade the … police who had been called. A local journalist managed to track down the 20-year-old immigrant in the seaside resort of Gandia, where he lives with his wife and daughter.

This gave Webster the opportunity to thank his lifesaver and to provide him with a ‘superman’ shirt. “He saved my life”, said the Spaniard. The municipality is planning to issue a certificate to Sow, and has said it wants to try to give the immigrant and his family legal status.

Previously, 22-year-old Malian Mamoudou Gassama was given French nationality after rescuing a toddler in Paris who dangled from the balcony of an apartment building.

UPDATE: Sow gets permit to stay in Spain.

Chimpanzee conservation also helps other animals

This 2015 video is about the Niokolo-Koba National Park in Senegal.

From Purdue University in the USA:

In developing nations, national parks could save endangered species

March 7, 2019

Summary: A new study of animal populations inside and outside a protected area in Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park, shows that protecting such an area from human interaction and development preserves not only chimps but many other mammal species.

The West African chimpanzee population has declined by nearly 80 percent in recent decades. Habitat loss is threatening their livelihoods across the continent, and especially in Senegal, where corporate mining has started eating up land in recent years.

The geographical distribution of West African chimps overlaps almost perfectly with gold and iron ore deposits, and unfortunately for the chimps, mining is a key piece of the country’s development strategy, said Stacy Lindshield, a biological anthropologist at Purdue University.

Extractive industries are already improving people’s livelihoods and promoting investment and infrastructure development, and researchers are trying to find a way to protect Senegal’s chimps without surrendering these benefits. Many of Earth’s animal species are now dying off at accelerated rates, but as human’s closest living relatives, they tend to tug at our heart strings. Chimps are scientifically important, too — because they participate in collective activities such as hunting and food-sharing, they’re often studied by social science researchers.

A new study of animal populations inside and outside a protected area in Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park, shows that protecting such an area from human interaction and development preserves not only chimps but many other mammal species. The findings were published in the journal Folia Primatologica.

“We saw the same number of chimpanzee species inside and outside the park, but more species of carnivores and ungulates in the protected area,” Lindshield said.

Although habitat loss is the biggest threat to West African chimps, they’re sometimes killed for meat. This is uncommon in Senegal, where eating chimpanzee meat is a taboo — people think chimps are too similar to humans to eat. But this isn’t the case in other West African countries, where researchers might see a bigger difference in chimp populations inside and outside protected areas. National parks could be especially effective at protecting chimps in these nations.

The difference in the number of species of carnivores and hooved animals (known as ungulates), inside and outside the park was stark — their populations were 14 and 42 percent higher in the park, respectively. This is in sharp contrast with what Lindshield was hearing on the ground in Senegal: There’s nothing in the park; all the animals are gone.

“There were qualitative and quantitative differences between what people were telling me and what I was seeing in the park,” she said. “Niokolo-Koba National Park is huge, and the area we study is nestled deeply in the interior where it’s difficult for humans to access. As a consequence, we see a lot of animals there.”

Hunting practices and human-carnivore conflict are two big reasons for ungulates thriving inside the park. These animals are frequently targeted by hunters, and some carnivore species turn to livestock as a food source when their prey species are dwindling, creating potential for conflict with humans. Because the two sites are relatively close geographically and have similar grassland, woodland and forest cover, the researchers think human activity is the root of differences between the two sites.

Lindshield’s team conducted basic field surveys by walking around the two sites and recording the animals they saw. They also installed camera traps at key water sources, gallery forests and caves to record more rare and nocturnal animals.

“We’re engaging in basic research, but it’s crucial in an area that’s rapidly developing and home to an endangered species,” Lindshield said. “This provides evidence that the protected area is effective, at least where we are working, counter to what I was hearing from the public. The management of protected areas is highly complex. Myriad challenges can make management goals nearly impossible, such as funding shortfalls or lack of buy-in from local communities, but I think it’s important for people to recognize that this park is not a lost cause; it’s working as it’s intended to at Assirik, especially for large ungulates and carnivores.”

Lindshield hopes her future studies will uncover not only which species exist in each site, but population sizes of each species. This metric, known as species evenness, is a key measure of biodiversity.

Data from the unprotected area in Senegal was collected by Jill Pruetz of Texas State University. Stephanie Bogart and Papa Ibnou Ndiaye of the University of Florida, and Mallé Gueye of Niokolo-Koba National Park, also contributed to this research. Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation, National Geographic Society, Leakey Foundation, Rufford Foundation, Primate Conservation Inc., Jane Goodall Research Center at University of Southern California, Purdue and Iowa State University.

Working memory is central to our mental lives; we use it to add up the cost of our shopping or to remember the beginning of this sentence at its end. Some scientists argue it is particularly developed in humans, but how do chimpanzees, one of our closest relatives, compare? Researchers set out to answer this question: here.

Scientists have developed new artificial intelligence software to recognize and track the faces of individual chimpanzees in the wild. The new software will allow researchers and wildlife conservationists to significantly cut back on time and resources spent analyzing video footage, according to the new article: here.

Researchers report on the average life expectancy of chimpanzees in Japan. The average life expectancy of chimpanzees who reach adulthood — reported as 12-years-old in the paper — is 40 years: 41.5 years for males and 39.2 years for females: here.

Senegalese children learn about birds

This 2010 German language video is about birds in the Djoudj National Park in Senegal.

From BirdLife:

Children taught to identify and count birds in Senegal

By Blandine Melis, 1 Feb 2017

Studies have shown that children learn to love and connect much more easily with nature than adults because they naturally explore and learn through social engagements.

In an effort to get children interested in bird conservation and provide practical and sustainable solutions that will benefit nature and people in the future, BirdLife International experts and other conservation stakeholders in Senegal have given kids the opportunity to develop a lasting interest in bird science.

On 15 January 2017, during events marking the International Waterbird Count Day in Senegal, ornithologists invited 16 students to participate and connect with nature. The children were selected from four schools in the Kalissaye Ornithological Nature Reserve in southern Senegal and they accompanied rangers to the field where they identified and counted birds in the Casamance area.

“The young people, accompanied by a Life and Earth Science teacher from Hillol Middle School were quick to grasp the skills and became ‘budding scientists’. They learned very quickly how to use binoculars, recognize criteria of bird identification and complete an observation collection protocol adapted to their capacity,” explained Blandine Mélis, BirdLife’s Conservation and Migratory Birds (CMB) Project Communications Officer for West Africa.

The children benefitted from the expertise of members of a potential BirdLife partner organisation in Senegal, the Association Nature-Communautés Développement supported by BirdLife’s CMB team in West Africa.

After the bird count exercise on the boat, a drawing competition took place on the beach where the children made very creative and high quality drawings inspired by their curiosity.

Through the CMB project, BirdLife international has strengthened networks and promoted the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats along the west coast of Africa. The Casamance event was part of a bigger environmental education program within the project, expected to last for a period of about two years in the protected site.

The BirdLife CMB project partnership with the Association Nature-Communautés Développement, has committed to facilitate the discovery of the territory in the Kalissaye Reserve and ensure that young people are properly involved in the management of the Reserve.

The project has developed a sustainable plan to ensure that these young people participate in several other practical activities in the future. These activities will include the “I don’t like garbage day”, which is a day set aside for waste collection to keep the environment clean. The children will also take part in reforestation activities and establish tree nurseries, as well as other actions that promote the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats along the west coast of Africa.

Wildlife clubs will also be created in schools outside the protected area to raise awareness and educate many more children on the importance of conserving birds and their habitats. Through these clubs, the school children will be encouraged to compete with their mates in different domains that can boost their curiosity and make them more resourceful. These competitions will guide the children to draw, write poems, sing and develop short sketches for conservation of nature and biodiversity, and protection of the ecosystem services.

Birds in Senegal, elsewhere in West Africa: here.

Dutch farmers help Senegalese farmers to help godwits

This is a black-tailed godwit video.

Translated from BirdLife in the Netherlands, 24 May 2016:

We also look across the border. After the breeding season our Dutch black-tailed godwits will migrate south. Most overwinter in Africa. They rest there, and need safety and food.

The Society for Versatile Farmlands decided to support their fellow farmers in Senegal with a donation of € 11,000 by way of BirdLife in the Netherlands. This wonderful initiative came from Teunis Jacob Slob, one of the first pro-grassland birds farmers. BirdLife in the Netherlands contributed to the project: at the Lac de Guiers, in the northwest of Senegal, we involve local farmers in protecting the godwits. Together, we ensure that the birds find food (rice) and find peace. In spring they will be strong enough to fly back to the Netherlands.

Birds in Senegal threatened by Big Oil

This video is called Royal tern flirtation dance.

From BirdLife:

Future oil production sites threaten seabirds off the shore of Senegal

By Obaka Torto, Wed, 01/04/2015 – 12:43

A three day meeting began on 17 February 2015 of the Experts Panel at the Abidjan Convention on Marine Environmental Standards for Offshore Oil and Gas Development. The meeting, held in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, brought together 25 experts and delegates from 10 countries, as well as several international organisations, to confront the threats to the West African environment from the activities of the offshore oil and gas industries.

BirdLife International, through its seabird conservation project Alcyon, along with VEDA Consultancy (a consulting firm working for BirdLife International on colonial breeding birds in West Africa), informed the panel of the recent discovery of oil in the Sangomar Deep block, off the Senegalese coast close to the National Park of Saloum Delta (PNDS), and its possible negative consequences for the world’s largest breeding colony of Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus.

Saloum Delta is a large national park (73,000 ha) situated on the Atlantic coast of Senegal, north of the Gambian border. A number of isolated sandy islands are situated a few kilometres from the mainland. One of them, île aux Oiseaux, is one of the most important breeding sites on the Senegal coast for colonial seabirds: these include Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia, Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus, Slender-billed Gull Larus genei and Grey-headed Gull Larus cirrocephalus.

The island is of great international importance for Royal Tern, sustaining up to 80% of the total population. In West Africa, Royal Tern breeds from Guinea to Mauritania. However, its entire breeding population is estimated to be only 95,000 pairs, of which up to 42,000 pairs breed in the Saloum Delta National Park in Senegal (Veen et al. 2008), making it the world’s most important breeding site for this species.

The Alcyon project of BirdLife International, funded by the MAVA Foundation, supports the monitoring of colonial breeding species in West Africa in order to identify marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) and thus to improve protection of the region’s seabirds. BirdLife is collaborating with Veda Consultancy and other partners to conduct research into Royal Tern in this area.

As a member of the Expert Panel and an ornithologist for VEDA, Wim Mullié, an environmental toxicologist, presented a poster designed to raise the alarm against future oil production in the immediate vicinity and the threat that commercial exploitation of oil might represent for the tern colonies.

This is indeed a good example of the practical use of data generated by the Alcyon project for conservation purposes.

Article by Wim Mullié and Justine Dossa


Veen, J., Dallmeijer, H.J. & Diagana, C. 2008. Monitoring colonial nesting birds along the West African Seaboard. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Senegalese and Dutch black-tailed godwit research

This video is called Godwits – Limosa limosa at Giganta Ricefields, Porto Alto, Portugal.

From BirdLife:

Gerrit and Khady: a Black-tailed Godwit romance

By Obaka Torto, Mon, 30/06/2014 – 14:59

Through the work of BirdLife International, Africa and Europe have come together many times for the love of birds. Khady Gueye from Senegal and Gerrit Gerritsen from the Netherlands offer a fine example of this. Both Khady and Gerrit are passionate about Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa), a ‘Near Threatened’ migratory shorebird. Khady studies them while they winter in Senegal and Gerrit is the godwit conservation specialist of Vogelbescherming Nederland (VBN, BirdLife in the Netherlands). He makes every effort to conserve the breeding habitat of the godwits in the Netherlands. The linkage between the two is even stronger. A bird ringed by Gerrit in 2007 went missing for six years, only to be rediscovered alive and well by Khady in Senegal in 2013.

Khady and Gerrit in Friesland, The Netherlands (Photo: Barend van Gemerden/VBN)

Khady and Gerrit in Friesland, The Netherlands (Photo: Barend van Gemerden/VBN)

Khady met Gerrit during her visit to Friesland, a province in the North of the Netherlands. Here she joined the researchers from the University of Groningen / Global Flyway Network to study the breeding habits of Black-tailed Godwits. Thanks to the team of Prof. Theunis Piersma and Jos Hooijmeijer, Khady learned a great deal about godwits and research techniques that will help her study.

Khady: “My job was to assist the team in their research; looking for nests and chicks, monitoring and ringing chicks. We also captured adults to read their rings and conduct biometric measurements. I improved my skills in reading rings and I now have a clear idea on how to study the availability of feeding resources for the birds at a site.”

Khady with just fledged chick of Black-tailed Godwit (Photo: Barend van Gemerden)

Khady with just fledged chick of Black-tailed Godwit (Photo: Barend van Gemerden)

Khady proved to be a valuable member of the team and her interest in the Black-tailed Godwit and determination to continue her research was held in high esteem by the entire team in the Netherlands. Khady: “Most exciting was working with the research team of Jos Hooijmeijer in the Netherlands, and the prospect of them coming to Senegal during the next season. While I was there, I better understood the ecology, migration strategies, as well as threats to the Black-tailed Godwit.”

Overall, Khady was highly impressed by what she saw in the Netherlands. “From my point of view, it is a very organized country. In Friesland in particular, people are friendly and pleasant. In this part of the Netherlands, the conservation of biodiversity and especially birds, is extremely important to the community.” To strengthen the commitment of the local community, Khady also participated in a successful visit of school children to a farm where many godwits breed. Khady’s presence emphasised the international connections that exist through migratory birds.

Khady scanning for Black-tailed Godwits in Senegal (Photo: Barend van Gemerden/VBN)

Khady scanning for Black-tailed Godwits in Senegal (Photo: Barend van Gemerden/VBN)

Young Graduates Research Project

Khady Gueye is a one of the awardees of the Young Graduates Research Project (YGRP) award, a conservation project grant under The Conservation of Migratory Birds (CMB) project, funded jointly by MAVA Foundation and Vogelbescherming Nederland (VBN).

This award is targeted at MSc-level students conducting ongoing research on migratory bird species in Cape Verde, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal, Sierra Leone and the Gambia.

This is a recurring award and the next grant opportunity will be announced shortly, so stay tuned to the CMB project page!

Birds wintering in Senegal, new research

This French video shows part of the documentary film L’île au faucon, by Allain Bougrain- Dubourg. It is about birds wintering in Senegal; especially lesser kestrels breeding in Spain and elsewhere in southern Europe.

Dutch biologists do research on Montagu’s harriers from Europe, wintering in Senegal. A male harrier wintered in 2013 near Kelcom in Senegal, and again this year. In the summer of 2013, he had nested in Spain.

In Senegal, they feed mainly on locusts.

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Eurasian migratory birds need big African trees

This video from England is about a common redstart.

This blog reported already about the count this month of migratory shorebirds in west Europe and west Africa.

More inland in Africa, people count migratory birds as well.

There is an international BirdLife program: Living on the Edge; for improving migratory bird habitats and livelihoods in the Sahel region, just south of the Sahara desert.

In this program, there is participation from Burkina Faso NATURAMA, Mauritania, Nigeria Conservation Foundation (NCF) – Nigeria; and Senegal. And also from European countries where the migratory birds are in summer.

This morning, Vroege Vogels radio in the Netherlands reported about it. Where do Eurasian migratory birds like common redstart and spotted flycatcher spend their African winters?

It turns out they do so overwhelmingly in just about ten tree species, all in the Acacia genus. And much more so in older, taller trees than in small, young trees.

This research result means there should be more conservation of acacia trees, especially tall, older ones.

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Coastal bird count, from Europe to South Africa

This video, in Dutch, is about counting shorebirds in Senegal.

This January, wintering coastal birds are counted, all the way from the Wadden sea in western Europe, to South Africa. People from all (West) European and (West) African countries along these coasts will participate in the counting.

This count will help conservation of these birds, all along their east Atlantic migration flyway.

African coastal birds, photo by Barend van Gemerden

Here is a beautiful photo by Barend van Gemerden. It shows great egrets, western reef herons, curlews and redshanks along a West African coast.

Photos of some of the bird counters are here.

Wader Quest and the Shorebirds of South Africa: here.

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