Published on December 28th, 2020 | by Alioune Badara Mbengue0
The Djoudj National Bird Park, a paradise for migrating birds
In Senegal, a French-speaking country in West Africa, lies Saint-Louis, a beautiful city on the northwest coast, known for its history and colonial architecture. About sixty kilometers north of this city, nestles the Djoudj National Bird Park (PNOD). A paradise for migratory birds and the ultimate haunt for endangered plant and animal species in the Delta, Djoudj Park is the wintering site for nearly three million migratory birds from Europe and Africa.
This Park is the third largest ornithological reserve in the world.
A park with many species and facets
Due to its geographical location, the Djoudj National Park is more than a haven of peace for migratory birds of the Palearctic. It represents an Oasis in the desert made up of a chain of lakes, backwaters, fords and sandbanks. It constitutes the first stage of migration after crossing the Sahara for Palaearctic and Afro-tropical bird species.
It should be added that following technical adjustments made with the aim of improving the reception conditions for migration (construction of nesting boxes), species have started to reproduce there.
It is the breeding ground for the White Pelican, Gray Pelican, Purple Heron, Crowned Crane, White Stilt, Ibis Tantalus and Egyptian Goose. There are 121 plant species and 92 species of fish, from 26 families and several species of reptiles, including the Nile crocodile, the python, the Nile monitor, the sand monitor, etc.
With the annual rehabilitation of these facilities and the efforts made to control the hydraulic regime, the number of migratory animals as well as that of nesting species are increasing.
The property constitutes a wetland of approximately 16,000 haincluding a large lake surrounded by streams, ponds and backwaters.
This reserve hosts more than 1,500,000 birds of 365 species, including more than 120 Palaearctic migratory species. The property constitutes a vital sanctuary for the nesting of species such as the white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus), the purple heron (Ardea purpurea), the African spoonbill (Platalea alba), the great egret (Casmerodius albus), the night heron. (Nycticorax nycticorax) and cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo).
The park also contains significant populations of crocodiles and manatees.
To winter in this ornithological reserve – the third most important in the world – some, like the widowed dendrocygnus, will cross the continent; others, like the summer teal, will travel more than 15,000 km from Siberia.
Once the Sahara has been crossed, nearly 120 Palaearctic species will come to drink in the fresh waters of Djoudj.
Between November and May, migratory birds fleeing the European cold, wading birds and several species of ducks come to nest there. There are also mammals, reptiles, jackals, monkeys, hyenas and gazelles…
Djoudj so poetic and touristy…
Djoudj Park is one of the few green regions in the Sahel. It is a paradise for migrating birds.
Hidden behind a curtain of red, soft and undulating dunes, this fossil delta opens up to the impetuous force of the waters of the river.
16,000 hectares of lakes and backwaters, fords and sandbanks, dotted with water lilies and acacias, fringed with reed beds, are home to northern pintail, northern shoveler, flamingos, cormorants…
Hordes of fighting knights, squads of egrets and black-tailed barges, cross in these places that bathe and feed the floods of the river.
The first major wetland south of the Sahara, Djoudj National Park is essential for wintering European migrants.
The number of migratory birds is estimated at some three million, divided into 350 species.
The most spectacular approach will take you, for three hours, aboard canoes with flat sides, in the heart of the backwaters to rub shoulderswith the multitude of large birds.
But over time, curiosity and patience will also offer you a secret communication with the wildlife of Djoudj: dendocygans, herons, tental ibis, fish eagles as well as crocodiles and monitor lizards will be surprised.
The all-terrain vehicle will take you to watchtowers overlooking the vastness of the Great Lake, where pintail, helmeted ducks, teals, spoonbills…
Managed by the National Parks Directorate of the Ministry of the Environment and Nature Protection, this site is open all year round.
However its accessibility is difficult in wintering (from July to October).
What to remember about Djoudj park:
➢ Created in 1971, enlarged in 1975, the Djoudj National Bird Park was classified in 1980 as a “wetland of international importance” by the Ramsar Convention, then listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1981.
➢ Varans and pythons sometimes hide in the grasses, as well as small crocodiles. What constitutes an exceptional spectacle.
➢ Regarding mammals, these are mainly cows, red monkeys (patas) and warthogs, but hyenas, Libyan cats, servals and dorcas gazelles also live in the park.
(en) Riccardo Groppali: “Djoudj and his birds. The avifauna of the National Park and of Atlantic Senegal and Gambia ”(Parco Adda Sud, Collaborazione Internazionale, 2006, 176 p.)
(fr) Jean Larivière and André-Roger Dupuy: “Senegal: Its parks, Its animals” (Paris, Nathan, 1978, 144 p.)
(fr) Jacques Verschuren: “National Parks, jewels of Senegal”, Zoo 41 (4), p. 150-157.
Sequence shot in the Djoudj for “Le Peuple migrateur”, a feature documentary by Jacques Perrin (2001)
The park is open from the beginning of November to the end of April. The visit is usually by canoe.
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