Protecting African manatees in the Dioulol Valley, Senegal.

18 January 2010

Oceanium Dakar (www.oceanium.org) warns that African manatees are threatened in the Dioulol Valley, in the Matam region of Senegal.

The construction and start-up of a dam on the Nawel River, a tributary of the Senegal River, has blocked the natural migration path of manatees and appears to have caused already the death of one individual in 2008 and three animals in 2009. The situation is particularly worrisome because the species’ numbers are very low.

The African manatee (Trichechus senegalensis) is a threatened species, protected at the national and international levels by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, see http://www.cites.org/fra/index.shtml) and the Convention on Migratory Species. It is on the IUCN Red List as a Vulnerable species.

Many different threats are weighing on the species, including accidental capture in fishing nets, illegal hunting, habitat change or loss, construction of dams (habitat fragmentation) and irrigation projects (water deprivation).