Come back fish, come back people
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CTA. 1999. Come back fish, come back people. Spore 82. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/48487
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore82.pdf
Until the 1960s, the delta of the Senegal river was an area of extraordinary ecological wealth. This mosaic of dunes, flood plains, and mangroves was home to tens of thousands of people living from hunting, fishing, livestock production, and...
Until the 1960s, the delta of the Senegal river was an area of extraordinary ecological wealth. This mosaic of dunes, flood plains, and mangroves was home to tens of thousands of people living from hunting, fishing, livestock production, and handicrafts. The droughts of recent years have depopulated the region of its manpower and the main source of income is now reed mats produced by the local women who have not moved. The construction of the Diama dam on the Senegal river cut down flood levels during the 1980s, causing gradual salting of the delta soils. The Diawling National Park was created on the Mauritanian bank of the river in 1991. It did not attempt to oppose development of human activity and conservation of the ecosystem, instead it focused on the interests of all smallholders. Scientific observations soon suggested that flood levels should be restored to those prior to the construction of the dam (see Spore 80). Steps were taken to consult the representatives of all the socioprofessional groups affected by the creation of the National Park: fresh water fishers, coastal fishers, pastoralists, vegetable and fruit growers, and craftspeople. Local people were often concerned that the creation of the park would disrupt their lives. Case-by-case solutions were found through a permanent link between the community and the project team. In the village of Birette, for example, livestock farmers whose pastures had been flooded by the new course of the river were encouraged to switch to market gardening. In Ziré Takhredient, local people, who had traditionally lived from hunting, were unhappy about switching to what they saw as demeaning agriculture, so they opted for fishing, stating that Òas long as there is one fish left in the water, we shall not work on the landÓ. Often there was a clash of interest between groups. Fishers wanted a certain type of water flow to encourage fish reproduction. But the Maure women, who had set up a workshop to produce traditional mats using leather and rushes, wanted a slightly different pattern of water flow so that the rushes could receive the first rains before being flooded. The most obvious result of the National Park is that wildlife has returned in all its diversity. But the most important result is less visible: it is the return and the development of various human activities that are in harmony with the ecosystem. It all goes to show that conservation of nature is not contradictory to human activities; it is instead a guarantee of their success. For further information Olivier Hammerlinck IUCN, Parc national du Diawling BP 3935 Nouakchott, Mauritania Email: email@example.com