The government of Chad has designated the “Plaine de Massenya” (2,526,000 hectares, 11°15'N 16°15'E) as its sixth Wetland of International Importance, bringing its total area under Ramsar listing to 12,405,068 hectares, second only to Canada in total area listed. According to Cynthia Kibata, Ramsar’s Assistant Advisor for Africa, the site, located in the southwestern regions of the country, is an inland wetland that forms part of the Lake Chad Basin and is characterized by freshwater marshes, rivers, streams and creeks. It plays several roles such as flood control, sediment capture, groundwater renewal, etc. Various endangered species that also attract tourists are present, e.g., the African elephant, leopards, the Nile crocodile, and others. There are 386 species of birds noted in the area, as well as numerous fish species, due to the occurrence of vegetation such as Echinachloa sp among others. The most important livelihood activities in the area are fishing, agriculture and livestock keeping. The main threats are deforestation, high concentrations of livestock, bush fires, over-fishing practices, poaching and lack of personnel with technical capabilities to ensure proper management practices. In the surrounding areas the major threat is caused by exploration activities for petroleum. Development projects in the area are being carried out by NGOs, e.g., education of the local communities on sustainable management of their resources, and an inventory is being carried out on sustainable energy sources.
The preparation of this important new designation has been supported by the WWF International Freshwater Programme. [22/10/08]