The Government of Senegal has removed the Réserve Spéciale de Faune du Ndiaël from the Montreux Record. The Ramsar Site was included on the Record in 1990 after threats to its ecological character were identified.
The Réserve, an inland wetland in the floodplain of the Senegal River, was designated as a Wetland of International Importance (“Ramsar Site” no.139) in 1977, and has been classified as a special wildlife reserve since 1965. It is of great conservation importance for migrating birds and other wildlife, and is vital for the wellbeing of local people communities.
The natural hydrology of the region was transformed in the 1960s to improve conditions for agriculture, and then affected by long periods of drought. The building of dykes along the banks of the Guiers Lake and Senegal River had reduced the water supply to the Site, which benefited only from return flows from nearby irrigated rice plots.
Ramsar Sites which are potentially at risk as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference may be placed on the Montreux Record, “The record of Ramsar Sites where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur”.
The Government put in place an initiative to restore the Site by increasing the water flow into the wetland, and a major programme was launched in 2012, implemented by OLAC (Office des Lacs et Cours d’eau) and PREFELAG (Projet de Restauration des fonctions socio-écologiques du Lac de Guiers) with IUCN technical support and financial support from the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
Six years later, the Government requested the technical assistance of the Convention Secretariat through a Ramsar Advisory Mission. The Mission report (see https://www.ramsar.org/document/ramsar-advisory-mission-report-87-senegal-2017) confirmed the progress made in rewatering the Site, and included several recommendations.
In August 2018, the Government compiled information (see https://www.ramsar.org/sites/default/files/documents/library/montreux_record_-_reserve_speciale_de_faune_du_ndiael.pdf) to propose the withdrawal of the Site from the Montreux Record. This was submitted for the advice of the Convention’s Scientific and Technical Review Panel, which replied on 13 October 2018 to confirm its support.
The STRP, while underlining the need to continue to implement the management plan, noted encouraging recent waterbird counts which suggest that the regular partial or complete flooding of the wetland will transform the Ndiael Basin into one of the main wintering sites for different species in the Senegal delta.