Winter Migrants At Djoudj Sanctuary

Posted On December 24, 2009 

Common Info

Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary is located in the extreme north-western part of Senegal in west Africa, near the Mauritania border and in the delta of River Senegal. It is 60 kilometres north-east to Saint Louis. It is a wetland habitat that supports a wide range of migratory avifauna including those across the Sahara. Set up in 1962, the area was declared a national bird sanctuary in 1971. In 1977, it was designated as the Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. The sanctuary has been designated as a World Heritage Site in 2001. It was also added to the World Heritage Site in Danger in 2006 but was later de-tagged in 2006. The local Wolof, Halpulaar, Haratin and Sarakolé people live in human settlements in Ddoudj National Bird Sanctuary.

Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary

Country Info

Senegal is located located to the south of the Senegal River in west Africa. The country has an area of 1,96,723 square kilometres. Senegal is flanked to the west by the Atlantic Ocean. To its north lies Mauritania while Mali lies in the east. Guinea and Guinea-Bissau are the neighbours of Senegal in the south-east. The country Gambia is surrounded on all three sides by Senegal except in the west. National capital is Dakar located at Cape-Vert peninsula.


Senegal mainly features rolling sandy plains of the western Sahel (the land strip across the east-west extremes of Africa that receive rainfall between 200 mm to 600 mm mean annual temperature). The highest point of Senegal is located near a locality called Nepen Diakha. The climate is tropical with dry and humid seasons determined by the north-east winter winds and south-west summer winds.

Geography of the Djoudj bird sanctuary

The 16,000 hectare bird sanctuary comprises seasonally flooded areas like lakes, ponds and bays surrounded by streams and backwaters. The sanctuary was once threatened by the rapid spread of the Salvinia molesta water plant that could choke out the entire vegetation but was later eradicated. The average altitude from the sea level is 20 metres.  The sanctuary is located in the basin of the

The sanctuary is in the basin of the brackish Djoudj Bayou (distributary) between the main river channel to the north and the Gorom Bayou to the south. During the dry season, Djoudj is the only natural green area along the whole river. The ground is covered with impermeable salt-impregnated alluvial clays forming saline flats.


The area has semi-arid Sahelian climate with alternating wet and dry seasons. Mean annual rainfall never exceeds 300 millimetres. Temperature is humid from March to June. Annual temperature is around 27 degree Centigrade while in the cold season it can drop to 10 degree Centigrade.


The savanna vegetation mainly has spiny bushes, acacias, herbs, grasses and Halophytic plants. Flora species like reedmace Typha australis and waterlily Nymphaea spp grow during the monsoons.


Djoudj National Park features a wide range of wild life like tortoise, crocodiles, monitor lizards, warthog, monkeys, jackal, pythons, gazelles, antelopes and others.

Djoudj National Park

Birds in Djoudj

The bird sanctuary has been set up mainly for protection, studying and viewing of birds. The wetland habitat supports three million migrant birds in this area including the white pelican, pinkbacked pelican, purple heron, cormorant and great egret. The sanctuary, along with other water bodies in Mali and Chad, serves as a favourite destination for millions of palaearctic ducks and other aquatic avifauna. Greater flamingos, lesser flamingos, European spoonbills spend the winter in and around the Senegal river delta. Black-tailed Godwit, African darter, herons, glossy Ibis, White-faced tree duck, African spoonbill, spur-winged goose and Sudan bustard are some of the birds that can be found here. Millions of migrants join the endemic species in the period between September to April. Several bird observation points have been put up along the edges of the important waterbodies in the area.

Other birds species found in Senegal include

  • Marbled Teal
  • Northern Bald Ibis
  • Yellow-bearded Bulbul
  • Aquatic Warbler
  • Lesser Kestrel
  • Lesser KestrelAfrican Collared-Dove
  • African Collared-Dove
  • Arabian Bustard
  • Cricket Longtail
  • Egyptian Plover
  • Sudan Golden-Sparrow
Time to visit

October to April is the best time to visit the Djoudj National Park when the rate of migration is the highest.


Charter flights are available from London Gatwick, Manchestar and Birmingham. Flights from these points fly via Brussels and take between one and ahalf hours to two and half hours. Flights are also available for Banjul in Gambia.


One tourist camp in the sanctuary is open from mid-November to mid-April while plans are on to start another on the north-east border. There are also hotels in St Louis to stay during the trip, like:

  • Hotel de la Poste
  • Hotel cap-Saint Louis
  • Hotel de la Residence
  • La Maison Rose
  • Hotel Sindon
  • La Louisiane
  • Hotel Pointe Sud
  • Hotel Mermoz
  • Besides there is also Djoudj Hotel in the Djoudj National Park
Other attractions in Djoudj and around
  • Bandia Nature ReserveBandia Nature Reserve
    It is a small game reserve located about 40 miles from Dakar. One can see African savannah animals here like Zebra, Roan Antelope, Waterbuck, Impala, Lord Derby Eland, Crocodiles, Kob Antelope, Green Vervet Monkeys and Patas Monkeys.
  • Ile De Goree
    Ile de Goree is famous for its local wooden art and craft manufactured by local artistes, an old slave trading station, a fort of the time of the Second World War as well as museum of history.
  • The market town of Kaolack, Senegal’s main peanut trading and processing centre. Grand Marché, the second-largest covered market in Africa as well as the Grande Mosquée, a large Moroccan-style mosque are the major attractions here.
  • Saint Louis which is known for its cast-iron bridge, the 18th century Governor Palace and the Guet N’Dar fishing village.
  • Canoeing in the Djouj bird sanctuary
  • Birding in Technopole in Dakar
  • Visiting an eco-museum constructed by the St Louis Club Jeunes-Nature.
  • A biological research station that includes research on rodent studies, bird ringing as well as investigation of migration routes, and population dynamics of birds.
  • Niokolo Koba National Park

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One Response to “Winter Migrants At Djoudj Sanctuary”
  1. Grant says:

    Oh my God! I never knew that a soccer playing nation will be so beautiful and worth a visit! I am impressed!

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