Important new additions from Burundi

12/06/2013

The government of Burundi has added three important new wetlands to the List of Wetlands of International Importance, at the same time that it has vastly extended the boundaries of its existing Ramsar Site, now renamed Parc National de la Rusizi, from 1,000 to 10,673 hectares. Ramsar’s Charlotte Eyong has prepared the following descriptive site summaries from the accompanying Ramsar Information Sheets:

Parc National de la Ruvubu. 14/03/13; Karuzi, Muyinga, Ruyigi and Cankuzo; 50,800 ha; 03°10’00”S 030°20’00”E. National Park. A permanent freshwater river surrounded by marshes, shrubs and tree dominated wetlands. It is a biodiversity-rich site with 44 mammal species, 412 waterbird species, 13 reptile and 14 fish species. The site is known to be a very important habitat for the IUCN Red-Listed Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius (from which the site name was derived) and Nile Crocodile Crocodylus niloticus listed on Appendix I of CITES. Its main vegetation is wooded savannah with surrounding gallery forests bordering the Ruvubu River. Hydrological functions include flood control and sediment trapping. Human activities include harvesting of medicinal plants and other non-timber forest products. Ramsar Site no. 2148. Most recent RIS information: 2013.

Paysage Aquatique Protégé du Nord. 14/03/13; Kirundo; 16,242 ha; 02°30’00”S 030°09’20”E. Protected Landscape, including a nature reserve. This is a complex of 8 permanent freshwater lakes and marshes, forming part of the Nile basin. It is a biodiversity rich site supporting several IUCN Red Listed species including the endemic fish species Barbus acuticeps and Synodontis ruandae, the Madagascar Pond Heron Ardeola idea, and the endangered Grey Crowned-crane Balearica regulorum. Twenty fish species including two endemic species have been identified in the site. It is composed of Soudano-Zambezian vegetation type with Tragelaphus scriptus, Sylvicapra grimmia and Lepus whytei. The site is an important habitat for waterbirds and a stopover ground for several migratory birds – with 60 bird species identified in one of its rivers. The presence of these waterbirds (over 5,000 individuals counted) has encouraged ecotourism in the site. Its main hydrological functions include general hydrological balance and flood control. Agriculture and fishing are the main human activities. The site is generally threatened by overexploitation of natural resources and erosion. Ramsar Site no. 2149. Most recent RIS information: 2013.

Réserve Naturelle de la Malagarazi. 14/03/13; Makamba; 800 ha; 03°55’00”S 030°13’00”E. Natural Reserve. A permanent freshwater river surrounded by marshes, forming the Burundian part of the Tanzanian Ramsar Site Malagarasi-Muyovozi Wetlands. It is a very important breeding ground for endemic fishes of the Congo basin and the Sudano-Zambezian ecoregion, hosting several bird species including the endangered Grey Crowned-crane Balearica regulorum, Hadada Ibis Bostrychia hagedash, and the Cape Wagtail Motacilla capensis. It is known to support the IUCN Red-Listed Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius and comprises diverse vegetation types including woodlands, gallery forests, savannas and marshes. Its hydrological functions include sediment trapping and maintaining water quality. The main human activities include agriculture, traditional fishing, and the collection of non-timber forest products. The site is threatened by slash and burn agriculture, deforestation, siltation, the use of toxic chemicals in fishing, and waste water discharges from the nearby sugar-producing industry. The designation of this site will permit the elaboration of a common management plan for this transboundary river between Burundi and Tanzania. Ramsar site no. 2150. Most recent RIS information: 2013.

Burundi’s preparatory work for these new site designations and the expanded Rusizi site has been financially assisted by WWF’s International Freshwater Programme.

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