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Converting the plastic threat into an ecotourism opportunity

The Kalissaye Ornithological Reserve (ROK) was created by decree 78-809 of 28 July 1978. The ROK’s vocation is to protect a complex ecosystem so that it plays the role of host to breeding colonies of birds and turtles, to ensure good breeding conditions for migratory birds and to promote tourism and scientific research. The ROK is the only Wetland of International Importance located in the southern part of Senegal. It is also recognized as an IBA and winner of the 2016 Conservation Award.

The ornithological reserve of kalissaye capitalizes on several years of collecting, sorting and recycling waste. Plastic waste is transformed into art objects (necklaces, garbage cans, statuettes, etc.) which are exhibited in hotel sites and sold to tourists. These actions allow to transform the plastic threat into an eco-tourism opportunity. In 2020 the ROK obtained support from the French Fund for the Global Environment. This support, allocated through the PPI, has enabled the implementation of the project to Consolidate the biological recovery of Laridae and marine turtles by strengthening the governance of the Kalissaye Ornithological Reserve in Senegal.

The project is based on three main axes: Improving Local Governance in the ROK, Stimulating the reproduction of migratory species and reducing anthropic pressures through the development of alternative economic activities.

Within the framework of the stimulation of the reproduction of migratory species, several activities have been planned, including cleaning up the breeding areas. This covers including the collection, extraction, sorting, and transformation of plastic waste, lost nets and packaging and solid objects. Indeed, the problem of waste is particularly critical with regard to plastic. This waste is a serious threat to migratory birds.

Men examine a manatee washed up dead on the beach

Plastic pollution poses a risk to the health of wild fauna in the Kalissaye Ornithological Reserve. It affects a large number of species, including humpback dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, birds, fish, etc. As far as birds are concerned, plastic pollution represents a triple threat:

  • plastic gets into the stomachs of birds and pollutes water resources and the breeding grounds of birds and marine turtles. These areas are suffocated by plastic waste. The same is true for birds, which play an essential role in the pollination of flowers, the protection of crops, the cleaning of beaches, the identification of fish areas, etc.”.
  • Plastic is also used as nesting material. Many birds collect pieces of plastic that they then use to line their nests, instead of using leaves or twigs, and this can cause injury and impede mobility in chicks.
  • Abandoned monoxyl nets are responsible for most bird bycatch at sea, in rivers, lakes and even on land. Seabirds are the most affected.

In view of its ecosystem, biological, ornithological, hydrological, etc. potential, the ROK is capitalizing on several years of cleaning and maintenance of breeding islands for migratory birds and marine turtles. In 2020, this activity coincided with World Wetlands Day. This Day was locally celebrated under the theme “Kalissaye Ornithological Reserve is full of Life, Let’s Act for its Biodiversity”. The World Day was celebrated in partnership with the management committee of the site, the Eco-guards GIE, the Environmental Education Centres, the pupils of the school 2 of kafountine, the women’s groups of the island villages. The day mobilized 63 participants

In order to solve the problem of plastic pollution in the reserve and reduce the number of birds that are victims of ingestion and entanglement, activities have included extracting waste, sorting, transforming it into necklaces, art objects, statuettes, rubbish bins and carrying out an environmental campaign targeting industrialists, hoteliers, families and individuals to take concrete measures to reduce their own plastic footprints.

This campaign has allowed to exchange with the actors on the objectives of the project of Consolidation of the biological upwelling of Laridae and marine turtles by strengthening the governance of the Kalissaye Ornithological Reserve in Senegal, the provisions of Law n° 2015-09 of 04 May 2015 relating to the prohibition of the production, importation, possession, distribution, use of plastic bags of low micronage and the rational management of plastic waste. It also made it possible to invite the populations to massively adhere to the zero waste policy launched on 04 January 2020 by his Excellency Mr Macky SALL President of the Republic of Senegal.

For further information

Contact: Centre d’Education, de Sensibilisation et de Partenariat (CESP_Kalissaye)
Tel; 00221 77 655 96 91

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