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Eco-Guards on patrol at Tocc-Tocc

Senegal: Tocc Tocc Reserve update

It’s been a busy summer and autumn for the EcoGuards and Community leaders at Tocc Tocc Reserve in northern Senegal. The EcoGuards are now patrolling the reserve full time, and we’re fortunate to have raised enough funds for a second boat for the reserve, which allows more wildlife monitoring and patrols.

Photo courtesy of Modou Diop Boh

The EcoGuards confiscated and destroyed the first illegal fish traps in the reserve (after giving the owners warnings to remove them, which they did not). The installation of buoys marking the reserve boundaries now guarantee people are aware of the protected area, which aids in enforcement of the regulations. However, because the local community supports and oversees the reserve, there have been few instances of broken rules, and most of those cases came from seasonal fishermen from outside the community. Ten fishermen have been arrested and fined for violating no fishing rules within refuge. Funds collected from fines were used by the community conservation committee towards refuge costs. So we believe the reserve is now protecting all the wildlife that uses it.

Additionally, since educational programs began last year, we have received five reports of manatees entangled in fishing nets from villages outside the reserve. In four cases, the EcoGuards were able to safely release the manatees back to the wild, and in the fifth case the manatee had unfortunately drowned, but genetics samples were collected that are helping us further understand the Lac de Guiers manatee population. We believe the increase in the number of reported entangled manatees (none were reported before this project began) is a direct result of our educational outreach and awareness programs in the area. Now that all the abandoned nets have been removed, manatee sightings within the reserve have also greatly increased. Between April-June 2014, manatees were sighted almost every day, which is a very large increase over the previous year, when they were sighted only every few weeks.

Photo courtesy of Tomas Diagne

Photo courtesy of Tomas Diagne

In September, the first observation tower was completed, and eleven members of Senegal’s parliament visited the refuge to see a good example of community-based conservation that can be used as a model for other sites in Senegal. It was a grand occasion with lots of speeches by the politicians and tours of the new tower. Next, we begin raising funds to build an education center at the reserve for the public and tourists.

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