Three dead manatees were found last week in the waters of the Navel River, a northern tributary to the Senegal River near the bridge-dam erected by SAED. According to witness accounts, the manatees carried by atypical strong currents violently slammed into the structure’s gates. This tragedy just one year after the rescue of five manatees in similar conditions re-launches the debate around the need for better integration of species’ migration, particularly the manatee, in the Senegal River valley.
Following the manatee’s (Trichechus Senegalensis) entrapment in December 2008, an agreement between Société d'Aménagement et d'Exploitation des terres du Delta du Fleuve Sénégal (SAED), regional technical services and Wetlands International Africa (WIA) anticipated lifting the gates, an obstacle to the manatee’s migration. Additionally in September 2009, WIA sent a letter recalling this agreement to SAED’s general director.
According to Dr Mamadou Niane, Coordinator for WIA’s West African Manatee Conservation Project, “there is no longer a doubt that the northern region is an important zone for the West African Manatee’s movement; it is therefore essential to remove all obstacles to the species’ migration in order to avoid this type of tragedy from reoccurring.
In actuality, the manatee’s future seems even particularly bleak. Several infrastructure initiatives are being developed by OMVS (hydro-agricultural, navigational, etc.) to develop navigation on the Senegal River. This reinforces Wetlands International Africa’s belief that wide consultation about the Senegal Basin is necessary.
Therefore, Wetlands International calls upon the Senegalese government and relevant institutions for the Senegal River to engage in joint river basin and water management planning. Furthermore, a date will soon be proposed for a consultation workshop for all partners interested in the species’ conservation.
For more information:
Manatee Project Coordinator
Wetlands International Africa (WIA)
Phone: + 221 869 16 81
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