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Senegal: Great progress at Tocc Tocc Reserve!

In the last 6 months, big things have been happening at Tocc Tocc Community Wildlife Reserve in northern Senegal. With our 22 new EcoGuards trained, regular patrols are now occurring, they’ve confiscated and destroyed illegal fishing gear, set out new buoys to mark the edge of the reserve on the lake side, and are clearing an opening through the reeds to the lagoon to prepare for the construction of a new dock. Here are a few photos showing all their great activities…even more incredible when you consider we have no salary to pay the staff right now, so they are doing all this work as volunteers!

Tomas Diagne led a training session for the EcoGuards last Fall. Aside from monitoring the reserve and enforcing the regulations, they are learning how to collect and record scientific data on all the wildlife species using the reserve.

Next up will be construction of the dock and two observation towers. Meanwhile Tomas and I continue to try to fund raise to create sustainable livelihoods for the hard-working EcoGuards. Stay tuned!

EcoGuards in a training session led by Tomas Diagne.

Two EcoGuards scouting the reserve during a routine patrol.

Group photo of all 22 EcoGuards (including 4 women!), the national park Conservator, and some members of the Community Conservation Committee.

We were also fortunate to have intern Albane Logiou this Fall, who cataloged all the fish species found in the reserve. Albane spent 3 months at Tocc Tocc.

EcoGuards also document things like signs that manatees have been feeding at Tocc Tocc. This guard holds up reeds that have been uprooted by manatees (usually at night) so they can feed on the roots of the plants. The long shredded stems are left floating on the water’s surface.

Clearing reeds to create a path for the new dock was a huge job! The dock will be installed very soon and then people will be able to access the lagoon part of the reserve from land for the first time.

EcoGuards pose with the first illegal fishing gear they confiscated from the reserve after all the communities agreed not to fish there. Apparently the gear belonged to migrant fishermen from Mali, who were warned that they could not fish within the reserve, but who refused to remove their traps. The traps were destroyed.

In January cement blocks were made to anchor the reserve’s new boundary marker buoys. Once they were ready they were brought by boat to the reserve…which is alot of work when you only have non-motorized canoes and the reserve is several miles away!

Guards getting ready to deploy the new buoys with the reserve.

Toleu chief Niaga Boh participating in deploying the new boundary buoys!

The buoys can be seen from at least 500 feet away, which will now make it easier to enforce Tocc Tocc Reserve regulations.

And residents like this Royal Tern already seem to be enjoying the buoys as well!

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