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WWD 2020 with Saloum Mangrove Environment Clubs Network

Report of World Wetlands Day activity on 2 February 2020 of the Saloum mangrove environment clubs network

The story of the day
On Sunday 2 February 2020 the Marine Protected Area (MPA) of the Gandoule Islands; located in the Saloum Delta, in the department of Foundiougne hosted the Celebration of World Wetlands Day (WWD).
The said day was organised by the Network of Mangrove Environment Clubs of Saloum (RCEMS) in partnership with Wetlands International Africa in its programme: Mangrove Capital Africa (MCA).

Objectives of the field trip

At around nine o’clock, after the welcome of the participants. The (RCEMS) coordinator Mr. Sané shared with the participants the objectives of the field trip which are :

  • To celebrate this February 2nd, WWD, and this year’s theme “the biodiversity of wetlands”
  • To make students and teachers discover the biodiversity of the wetland of the Saloum Delta (MPA of the Gandoule Islands)
  • To motivate the schools invited to the educational outing (Soum2 and Ya Salam) to set up their own Mangrove Environment Clubs in their respective schools
  • Show the vulnerability and fragility of the mangrove ecosystem
  • Collect the strategies implemented for sustainable management
  • Clean up a bird resting site

At 9.30 am the dugout left the Foundiougne pier, heading for the Gandoule islands, for a visit that will last seven hours; under the direction of MPA agents (Mr Diédhiou and Mr Mané) and eco-guides (Mr Thior and Mr Sarr).

From the beginning of the crossing, the pupils put into practice what they had learned in the clubs in the pedagogical activities, namely:
Handling binoculars; bird watching; describing, identifying and counting of birds.

Taking the floor, Mr. Diédhiou, an agent of the MPA management, gave us a presentation of the MPA of Gandoule created by decree N° 2014-416 of March 31, 2014, with a surface area of 15,732 ha. It is located in the district of Niodior, Commune of Djirnda, Department of Foundiougne, Fatick Region. It is limited to the West by the Atlantic Ocean to the East by the green buoys going towards Foundiougne to the North by the Bolongs de Diamniadio and to the South by Djirnda. It is composed of 14 islands, 10 of which are inhabited. After this presentation, Mr. Diédhiou gave us a presentation on the biodiversity of the wetland of the Saloum delta of the species it hosts (dolphins, monkeys, fish, birds etc.) and its importance on the food chain. Thus the children, even if they did not have the chance to see the monkeys, had to enjoy the dance of the dolphins and many other species.
At 10 o’clock we disembark on our first island Velingara.

Fish drying on a platform on the beach, visitors look on

Here we met the Soussous (Guineans by origin) who are smoking hethemalos (kobos) (kethiakh) which will be marketed in the sub-region.

The students had the chance to see first hand the phenomenon of coastal erosion and the advance of the sea.

Man in uniform examines a clearly eroded beach bank

Also on the island of Vélingara, we exchanged seafood products with the women processors. They told us about their difficult working conditions due to their under-equipment or lack of means: Gloves, shoes, cutters, improved fireplaces to save mangrove wood, etc.

Before leaving the island, we observed how the oysters were fixed on the mangrove roots, hence the relevance of oyster farming with grids.

After Vélingara, we headed for the island of Maya, also called the island of shellfish clusters. At the entrance we were greeted by a bank dotted with shells and oyster shells.

Like Vélingara, in Maya we also met the women processors of fish products. They told us about the same difficulties described above.

In Maya we were welcomed by the village chief, after his prayers and blessing. We went to visit the shellfish heaps. There are five of them on the island with altitudes exceeding 5m.

A great resistance fighter and scholar of Islam El Hadji Omar Foutiyou Tall stayed in these places. Thus the population often comes to these places to pray.

Fambine also shelters a 10m high watchtower, allowing the eco-guards to conduct surveillance of the coasts and the mangrove forest.

The village chief of Fambine also received us, after having magnified the object of our visit. He told us about the history of the village, the beach chain (a type of fishing native to this locality practiced since 1937), its economic activities, the naval workshop, but also the importance of the MPA, and the vulnerability of the mangrove ecosystem, as well as the strategies implemented for its preservation.

It is 3 pm we leave Fambine to visit the reefs of Djirnda where mussel farming is practiced. These reefs are also used as a shelter for fish, as fishing is forbidden there.

At 3:30 pm, the visit is over, we turn back to Foundiougne where we arrived at around 4:30 pm.

Ashore, the pupils made a summary of the day’s activity. They took the opportunity to raise awareness about plastic waste.

All’s well that ends well. The RCEMS celebrated in its own way this JMZH, which is also a Palindromic Day as the Director of the Mbam2 school reminded us so well.

Children and adults on a dock on Senegal

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