The Annotated Ramsar List: Niger


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The Annotated Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance


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The Convention on Wetlands came into force for Niger on 30 August 1987. Niger presently has 12 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area of 4,317,869 hectares.

site; date of designation; region, province, state; surface area; coordinates
site; date de désignation; région, province, état; superficie; coordonnées
sitios; fecha de designación; región, provincia, estado; área; coordenadas

Complexe Kokorou-Namga.17/06/01. Tillabéri. 66,829 ha. 14º12’N 000º55’E. Part of a transfrontier wetland, shared with Burkina Faso and Mali, the site comprises a suite of four permanent and semi-permanent marshes and pools in a former tributary of the river Niger. Internationally important for a number of reasons, it is particularly valued for its support to waterbirds, with nearly 50,000 representatives of 56 species counted in 2000. Three ethnic groups inhabit the region, largely Muslim but with a richness which includes veneration of a serpent considered to be a protective spirit for Kokorou and the people living there. Deforestation and over-grazing, as well as desertification, are considered to be threats. The site has been included as a demonstration project under the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) funded by GEF. Ramsar site no. 1071. Most recent RIS information: 2000.

Dallol Bosso.26/04/04; Dosso; 376,162 ha; 13°57'N 002°98'E. A system of seasonal watercourses and permanent pools in the old north-south valley of a long inactive branch of the river Niger, associated with long 775km depression running southward from Mali. Sandy soils with a near-surface aquifer contribute to the agricultural importance of the area and to the only viable West African population of the giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis. The site also supports numerous fish species at different stages of their life cycles, and certain species migrate towards the Niger during the winter season, enriching the biodiversity there. Chief human uses of the area include irrigation agriculture, livestock, forestry, fishing, and the extraction of the salt-like natron. The effects of desertification in the region, including uncertain rains, sand encroachment, and inadequate groundwater recharge, give cause for concern, and overgrazing and soil impoverishment through overcultivation are seen as potential threats. The area is adjacent to Parc National du W and part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of that name. Ramsar site no. 1382. Most recent RIS information: 2004.

Dallol Maouri. 26/04/04; Dosso; 318,966 ha; 12°04'N 003°30'E. A former north-south tributary of the Niger along the frontier with Nigeria in the southwest, now a complex of permanent saline/alkaline pools and seasonal streams and creeks with an exceptional complex of vegetation including the Palmyra palm Borassus aethiopum and African doum palm Hyphaene thebaïca. Some nine ethnic groups contribute to the human population, and rainy-season agriculture and market gardens, salt extraction, fishing, forestry, and grazing are the principal means of livelihood. A high sustainable tourism potential is seen, and a local research programme, financed by Switzerland, is studying potential development in sustainable livelihoods. As elsewhere in the region, the effects of desertification comprise the most worrying threats to the site. Ramsar site no. 1381. Most recent RIS information: 2004.

Gueltas et Oasis de l'Aïr. 16/09/05; Agadez; 2,413,237 ha; 18°18'N 009°30'E. National Reserve. A complex of permanent and temporary streams, oases and marshes at the centre of the Niger portion of the Sahara desert, hosting a number of endangered species such as the vulnerable cheetah, Barbary sheep and Dorcas gazelle, as well as the critically endangered Addax. Up to 290 species of angiosperms and 150 species of birds have been counted at the site. The wetlands play an important role in flood control, while the vegetation acts as a sediment trap. Subsistence agriculture is important for the local population, who have formed cooperatives to irrigate and sell their products, which provide substantial revenue in return. Raising goats, and to a certain extent donkeys, sheep and camels is, with agriculture, at the basis of 98% of people's livelihoods in the area. The archaeological and cultural value of the site is high due to the remains of old cities (e.g., Assodé), Neolithic engravings showing animals which have now become locally extinct (e.g., giraffes, elephants), and objects such as arrows, pottery and shells which are a reminder of the camel caravans that used to pass through the area. Desertification, combined with anthropogenic pressure, is changing the area's ecology and consequently its ability to support both animal and human populations. Ramsar site no. 1501. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

La mare de Dan Doutchi. 16/09/05; Tahoua; 25,366 ha; 14°15'N 004°37'E. A permanent pond that, with its surrounding vegetation, is characteristic of the climatic transition zone between the Sahel and the Sahara. Plant diversity is relatively high for both grass and woody species; the area is also an important wintering site for Afrotropical and Palearctic migratory birds, of which 40 species have been counted The main human activity is fishing, which provides both an important protein source and substantial revenue to the local people: fresh fish is sold in neighbouring towns, while the surplus is smoked or fried and exported to Nigeria. Subsistence flood recession agriculture also takes place, with cassava, maize, green beans, onion and sweet potato, and once crops are harvested the land becomes pasture again. Unsustainable agricultural and fishing methods and overgrazing threaten the ecological balance. A management plan is being developed which will consider the needs of the local people and seek their participation. Ramsar site no. 1492. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

La mare de Lassouri.16/09/05; Zinder; 26,737 ha; 14°02'N 009°35'E. A semi-permanent wetland, part of Lake Chad's catchment, which during the dry season splits up into a string of shallow ponds with good water quality. The area shows high density of woody vegetation which is rarely found in the Sahel, characterized by Acacia nilotica, Acacia albida and Mitragyna inermis. It is an important refuge for waterbirds and regularly hosts an average of 23,000 birds, with especially significant proportions of Dendrocygna viduata and the Comb duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos) in addition to egrets, sterns, ducks, herons, sandpipers and harriers. The site supports small-scale agriculture (vegetables and cereals) and fishing (mainly of Clarias angularia and Protopterus annectens) and provides pasture for both local livestock and that of nomadic pastoralists who visit the site for part of the year. The area is threatened by over-grazing, illegal logging and sand deposition caused by water and wind erosion. No conservation measure is in place at the moment apart from rules deriving from legislative and customary law. The main scientific activity in the area is related to bird counts under OMPO's (Migratory Birds of the Western Palearctic) western Africa programme. Ramsar site no. 1493. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

La mare de Tabalak.16/09/05; Tahoua; 7,713 ha; 15°04'N 005°38'E. One of the most significant ponds in Niger, with a high diversity of flora, but especially fauna, in its role as a refuge of waterbirds, particularly ducks and waders. The site hosts an average of 14% of the biogeographic population of the Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus). The wetland also helps in flood control and in recharging groundwater. Its permanence is, however, relatively recent, following the rupture of the upstream Kori d'Ibaga dam in the 1970s, and the village of Tabalak became settled with people who moved in from far and near to assist in the construction of the "uranium route". The village is dependent on the fish, water resources and agricultural land associated with the wetland - between 100 and 300 tonnes p.a. of fish are supplied and sold, providing important income to the local people, and some 5,400 people benefit from the agricultural land around the wetland, while firewood and other natural resources are used by the local population- the Touareg and Haoussa - and their livestock. No special conservation measures are in place, but small projects have been undertaken to increase the social benefits arising from the site, such as introduction of fish in the wetland and dykes to hold more water for agriculture. Ramsar site no. 1494. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Lac Tchad.17/06/01. Diffa. 340,423 ha. 14º15’N 013º20’E. Lake Chad, much reduced in area in recent years, is still the fourth largest lake in Africa (after Victoria, Tanganyika, and Nyassa) and apparently the third largest endorrheic lake in the world (after the Aral and Caspian seas). The Niger portion of the shallow lake is extremely rich in biodiversity, particularly in migratory birds but also in its 120 species of fish. In an arid and semi-arid environment of very little rainfall, the supply of water depends upon the rainfall fluctuations in the wider catchment, which have generally not been favorable in recent years. Serious drops in fish production in recent decades remain ominous despite very recent encouraging signs. Traditional nomadic livestock practices present a threat in terms of desertification and require improved management. Ramsar site no. 1072.Most recent RIS information: 2000.

Oasis du Kawar. 16/09/05; Agadez; 368,536 ha; 19°43'N 012°56'E. A complex of oases between two deserts, the Erg du Ténéré to the west and the Erg de Bilma to the south and east, one of the last remaining areas in Niger where different varieties of productive date palms (Phoenix dactylifera) can be found and are reputed for their high quality. It also is a refuge for different mammals like the Cape hare, the Golden jackal, and the vulnerable Dorcas gazelle and Barbary sheep. The oases are part of the enormous aquifer system of the Djado and Bilma basins and are fed by freshwater resurgence and a shallow water table. This water source is essential for the local population, which practices subsistence agriculture in small fields around the oases, growing vegetables (peanuts, salad, cabbage, carrots) and fruits (guava, mangoes, citrus and bananas) which contribute to families' income. They also harvest dates, which are exchanged for cereals, and salt from small salines found in the area. The oases are along the ancient trans-Saharan desert route linking Algeria and Libya to Lake Chad. Sand deposition and soil salinisation are the main threats - windbreaks are seen as the solution to reduce sand deposition, and there are plans to restore degraded palm plantations and improve agricultural techniques to reduce damage to the environment. Awareness campaigns by local NGOs and technicians have been carried out in the past. Ramsar site no. 1495. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Parc national du "W".30/04/87; Tillabery; 220,000 ha; 12º15’N 002º25’E. World Heritage site; National Park. Part of transboundry protected area shared by Benin, Burkina Faso, and Niger and contiguous with the Ramsar site of the same name in Burkina Faso. Located in the biogeographical region of the Sudanese wooded savannah, vegetation consists of annual grasses, woody savannah, and gallery forest. There is a rich avifauna, including numerous species of wintering migratory waterbirds, e.g, Anatidae (ducks, geese, swans, etc.), storks, and Ardeidae (herons, bitterns, etc.), and important numbers of elephants, buffaloes, lions and antelope are supported as well as an economically valuable fishery. The Niger River is a critically important source of domestic and irrigation water. Ramsar site no. 355. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Zone humide du moyen Niger.17/06/01; Dosso; 88,050 ha; 12º04’N 003º13’E. A transfrontier wetland (shared with Benin and Nigeria) along the left bank of the river Niger some 55km west of the city of Gaya, SE of the capital Niamey, the site comprises the river and its floodplains with their permanent and seasonal ponds and watercourses. The site is internationally important by the representative criterion as well as by four of the waterbird and fish criteria, in particular for providing refuge for several fish species that have disappeared elsewhere along the river. Inundation occurs over a 4-5 month period beginning with rains in August through to the arrival of floods from upstream in November, and the site thus plays a key role in the hydrological cycle of the region. Vegetation is dominated by Echinochloa stagnina which provides pasturage for livestock of local communities, in addition to their traditional pursuits of diversified agriculture and fishing. Tourism is beginning in the area, and the local population has instituted no-hunting mechanisms to encourage birdwatching. Though the land is state-owned, the local population has age-old rights of use. A regional management plan for parks and reserves in the area is under development among Benin, Burkina Faso, and Niger. Ramsar site no. 1073. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Zone humide du moyen Niger II. 26/04/04; Dosso; 65,850 ha; 12°21'N 002°54'E. A 25km stretch of the river Niger along the border with Benin in the southwest of the country, with associated floodplains and pools. The area is extremely important for the presence of hippo grass echinochloa stagnina, a quality forage plant, and the grass anthephora nigritana which provides habitat for thousands of waterbirds as well as pasturage. Threatened species include the white-tailed mongoose, the pale fox vulpes pallida, and the African manatee Trichechus senegalensis, and the permanent pools provide refuge for several fish species that have disappeared elsewhere along the river. The hydrological regime is characterized by a period of flooding of 4-5 months, beginning in August with local torrential rains and again in November with floods coming down from upstream. The rich alluvual soils provide agricultural and pastoral livelihoods, but unwise practices, as well as invasions of the cattail typha australis, present potential threats. The land is largely state-owned but the population has long-standing usage rights. Ramsar site no. 1383. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

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