World Wetlands Day 2003: Eritrea



Report by Haile Amanuel
Seawater Farms Eritrea

We celebrated 2 nd February 2003, the world wetland day at the Green Islands Massawa with a group of Nature lovers and my family members. The Green Island is about 20 minutes boat ride from Massawa. The island is having pristine mangroves area 30 hectares. The Grey Mangroves Avicennia marina and other mangal community like Limonium axillare, Suaeda maritima, Zygopylum, Cressa cratica etc is growing along with the the mangroves. The island is an ideal place for bird watching and entertainment in that its ecology is intact and that the beach is crystal clear. Corals and marine life is in its prime in this area.

The country, Eritrea, doesn't have any legally protected area or a park for that matter. The island has some sort of religious significance to the Moslem communities of the nearby port town of Massawa, the island has been off limits to many Eritrean. This has played to the protection of the mangrove and related flora and fauna . We reached at the island after almost 20 minutes of boat ride from the nearby landing site of the Dahlak Hotel. As an organizer of the trip I had to brief members of my family and friends as to the basics of the wetland, bird watching, economic, aesthetic and ecological values of the island. The wetland is so endowed with a variety of coastal flora and fauna that we were able to see four Dolphins about 20 meters off shore on the eastern shore of the island 78 Pink-backed Pelicans Pelecanus rufescens thirteen Pelican nests in an area of 900 meter square; and 285 Crab Plovers Dromas ardeola The island is home to different bird species including Reef Herons Egretta gularis, Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis Brown Boobies Sula leucogaster and others. In spite of their existence we couldn't count the birds because of distance.

As part of the World Wetland day activity we collected plastic bags and containers, refuse generated by visitors; we also erected fallen signs that says, "Don't pass beyond this area" in both English and Tigrigna, a local language. Collection of the garbage concluded activities of the day.
Hours later we packed all the garbage in to the boat and took it with us in to the landing site in Dahlak Hotel where we disposed it off.

Map of Eritrea

A flock of Crab Plovers Photo - J.K. Tiwari

Green Island from distance - Winter-monsoon clouds over the island photo - J.K. Tiwari

Yemeni-fishermen near the Green Island Photo- J.K. Tiwari

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