The approximately 180 km long national park on the West African coast is a flat water and mudflat area with mangroves, dunes and swamp areas. It is the habitat of a diverse flora and fauna and one of the most bird-rich regions in the world. The largest seabird breeding colony in West Africa has its home in the national park. At the same time, the area serves as a resting place for northern European and Siberian waders.
Banc d’Arguin National Park: facts
|Official title:||Banc d’Arguin National Park|
|Natural monument:||180 km long strip on the Mauritanian Atlantic coast with sandbanks, shallow water zones, bush and grass steppes as well as seagrass silt areas; also Île de Tidra (280 km²) and Île d’Arguin, total area: 12,000 km², national park since 1978, since 1982 as wetlands of international importance under the protection of the Ramsar Convention|
|Location:||between Cap Timiris and Pointe Minou, south-southeast of Nouadhibou, north of Nouakchott|
|Meaning:||internationally important resting place for northern European and Siberian waders; largest seabird breeding colony in West Africa|
|Flora and fauna:||Plant species such as Salicornia senegalensis, Stipagrostis pungens, Euphorbia balsamifera, but also Acacia raddiana and Cassia italica, 310 km² mangrove forest; An estimated 7 million waders migrate in the national park, 30% of them breeding there, occurrence of red knot, common woodcock, lapwing plover, dunlin, redshank, coastal heron, nesting place for more than 12,000 pink pelicans and over 50,000 king terns as well as yellow-billed pygmy shots; Presence of green turtles and hawksbill turtles, Cameroon river dolphins and bottlenose dolphins, as well as Dorcas gazelle, jackal, fennec and hyena|
With the knutt to the Mauritanian sandbanks
On the way from their breeding grounds to their wintering areas, it is not only Knutts who achieve record-breaking achievements; some of the feathered creatures have to travel more than 4000 kilometers to find their winter quarters. Without sufficient energy reserves, this would be impossible. Some migratory birds in Northern Europe double their body weight while they are guests in the Wadden Sea. Well-equipped, redshank, curlew and curlew finally leave our latitudes in late summer and set off on their way to the coasts of West Africa.
Already with the first rays of spring sun, the peace and quiet on the North Frisian Islands happened. The first stream of visitors from the mainland breaks in over the Schleswig-Holstein North Sea islands. Very few newcomers have a view of the salt marshes and mud flats, an important habitat for numerous waders and some species of geese. Hardly anyone thinks about the fact that the holiday islands of North Friesland with the surrounding tidal flats form a central stepping stone biotope for a host of birds whose breeding grounds are in the Scandinavian and Siberian tundras. On their long journeys, migratory birds don’t just fly from A to B – the routes are far too strenuous for that. Woodcock, lapwing ringed plover, Knutt and Dunlin rest between their breeding grounds and their winter quarters; without these “stepping stones” they would perish on their journey from north to south and south to north.
The holiday guests on the coasts of the North Sea islands are now also gradually decreasing. Gradually the harbingers of winter settle over the islands of the Wadden Sea. The first autumn storms sweep over the land protected by dykes and whip up the waves, which constantly break the coastal fringes. Soon Father Frost will be in touch too; in particularly harsh winters, the islands are tightly gripped by pack ice.
According to remzfamily, the Knutt has long since reached the western edge of the Sahara. Between Cap Blanc and Cap Timiris – on this side and on the other side of the Tropic of Cancer – there is no sign of hibernation or rigidity. Thousands of breeding pairs of different seabird species share the numerous bays, sandbanks and islands, some of which jut out of the sea as ocher-colored cliffs or are washed around by the tide like a baking tray, traversed by troughs and populated by salt-loving plants. Golden jackals roam the beach and have a feast, when they finally find a stranded sea bream. The wind blows away the sand of the dunes, and the omnipotence of the water carries away a finger-shaped sandbank piece by piece, in order to deposit the sand again elsewhere. The Knutts are now also romping on the coast of Mauritania. Here you can find remnants of the mangrove forest, where the mudskipper lives. Mollusks and crustaceans such as cone snails and fiddler crabs, but also worms and mussels, provide a rich food supply for the king terns that breed here, which have a striking black “head” and whose courtship can be observed in the national park. The pink pelicans, who have set up their “domicile” on the Île Arel and who each devour an average of three kilograms of fish a day during the breeding season, prefer “delicacies” of a completely different kind. They are not entirely without competition, as the fishermen living in the national park also hope for a rich catch. They move skillfully with their small sailing boats through the labyrinth of shallow water, creeks and islands and cast their nets.
Months go by, and soon it will be time again for Knutt and Dunlin to set off for the “breeding business” in the far north. And before the autumn storms announce the imminent winter, they move back over the islands of the North Frisian Wadden Sea to take a rest on their journey to the southern winter quarters. Without the Wadden Sea and the Banc d’Arguin, there would be no important habitats that are of great importance for bird migration.