The Inner Niger Delta in Mali is a large floodplain at the edge of the Sahara. One million people fully depend on its natural resources and earn their livelihoods from it as fishermen, cattle breeders and farmers. It also forms a vital part of the eco-regional network, for nearly 3 to 4 million waterbirds that migrate here from their breeding grounds in other parts of Africa, Europe and Asia. In recognition of its international importance, the Delta has been declared as a Ramsar Site.
As a result of climate change and the pressures of human use (dams and irrigation systems upstream) the natural resources are in bad shape. This causes acute food insecurity for the local communities. The project area has the highest poverty rate (78.5%) of Mali (64% in 2001). Poverty forces the local communities to use unsustainable methods to get food or income, thereby further jeopardizing the balance of the ecosystem in the area.
Poaching the waterbirds that migrate to the Inner Niger Delta is one of these unsustainable methods of providing food for their families, and the purple heron is an easy target due to its fatigue from crossing the desert.
Wetlands International has been working with the Governments, local people and a range of partners to improve the management of the wetlands for the benefit of local people and biodiversity. More information is available here.