In 2004, the government of Mali incorporated its three existing Wetlands of International Importance into one huge Ramsar Site, the Delta Intérieur du Niger, and as of 22 March 2013 a further three wetlands have been added to the Ramsar List; Mali presently has 4 Ramsar Sites covering more than 4 million hectares. As summarized by Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for Africa, Ms Ako Charlotte Eyong from the Ramsar Information Sheets, Lac Magui (24,740 hectares, 14°38'39''N 011°01'38''W) in the Kayes region is a permanent freshwater lake, receiving run-offs from several creeks. The lake is lined with herbaceous and woody plants at the bottom and very rich in biodiversity including small mammals, reptiles, fishes and waterbirds. It is a source of food and resting ground for several migrating birds with over 95 species identified, including Garganey Anas querquedula, Northern Pintail Anas acuta, Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus and the Purple Heron Ardea purpurea. 26,000 birds were counted in 2003 and over 21,800 in 2005. It is an important source of food and spawning ground for fishes from River Senegal.
The site's main hydrological functions include water retention, groundwater recharge, flood control and shoreline stabilisation, and it is important in maintaining the general hydrological balance of the Senegal River basin. The main human activities carried out in and around the site include agriculture, fishing and harvesting of forest products.
Lac Wegnia, a Managed Resource Protected Area in the Koulikoro region (3,900 ha, 13°18'00"N 008°07'46"W) is a complex of permanent freshwater lakes and marshes. It is a biodiversity rich area consisting mostly of Southern Sudanese Savannah vegetation including the IUCN Red-Listed Shea Butter Tree Vitellaria paradoxa, small mammals and fishes. 2,750 plant species have been identified in the area, with several endemic species. It is a home for the Nile Crocodile Crocodylus niloticus listed on Appendix 1 of CITES and a source of food and spawning ground for fishes. It supports several waterbirds such as the Spur-winged Goose Plectropterus gambensis, Abdim's Stork Ciconia abdimii, and the Grey Heron Ardea cinerea.
The new site's main hydrological values include natural flood control, groundwater recharge, water retention and supply to surrounding wetlands, including the nearby Boucle du Baoulé Biosphere Reserve. The lake is of great cultural value and attracts local tourists from cities throughout the year. Main human activities include rice farming, forest exploitation, animal rearing, arboriculture and gardening. The site is threatened by poaching, overfishing, continuous deforestation, and poor agricultural techniques causing erosion and siltation.
The third new Ramsar Site is the Plaine Inondable du Sourou in the Mopti region (56,500 ha, 13°21'39"N 003°27'19"W), a seasonal freshwater marsh formed from seasonal freshwater rivers and small permanent lakes, forming part of the Black Volta basin. It is a biodiversity rich area supporting several fish and bird species already decreasing in the Inner Niger Delta, such as the African bonytongue Heterotis niloticus, Senegal bichir Polypterus senegalus and Freshwater Rat-tail Gymnarchus niloticus. 20,978 individuals of 32 bird species were identified in 2009 with over 2% of the West African breeding population of the African Pygmy-goose Nettapus auritus and Purple Heron Ardea purpurea, and 22,000 bird individuals in 2011. The site also supports IUCN Red-Listed Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius and African Elephant Loxodonta africana. The rice fields are a good source of food and a spawning ground and nursery for fishes of the Sourou basin. It ensures general hydrological balance of the basin, flood control and groundwater recharge. The main human activities include rice farming, fishing, and wood harvesting.
Acacia senegal in temporarily flooded zone (photo: AMCFE)
Plaine Inondable du Sourou