For four months each year during the rainy season, floodwaters spill over the banks of the Niger and Bani Rivers and the Inner Niger Delta swells to an area of about 20,000 km2. The swamps, lakes, and channels of the delta provide vital habitat for migratory Palearctic birds and West African manatees. The delta is also an essential resource for Malians, supporting livelihoods in fishing, farming, and pastoralism in an otherwise arid country. These floodplains support the highest livestock density in Africa and are increasingly threatened by a variety of anthropogenic pressures and unsustainable uses.
The Inner Niger Delta is located in central Mali in the semi-arid Sahelian zone, just south of the Sahara Desert. The huge dunes of the Erg Ouagadou funnel the waters of the inner delta north and east through Mali. A diverse mix of channels, swamps, and lakes, the delta expands to cover 20,000 km2 during the rainy season and contracts to 3,900 km2 during the dry season The delta extends for 425 km with an average width of 87 km, tapering into a braided river near Tombouctou where the Niger River curves to the east. The floodplain is remarkably level, dropping only 8 m over its course (Hughes and Hughes 1992).
The main threat to Mali’s wildlife is deforestation, hunting, livestock proliferation, agricultural activities, and desertification. Other factors that present threats are pollution, mining operations, and fire explosions. The conservation of protected areas in Mali falls under the responsibility of Mali’s National Parks, while the forests fall under the forest service. Major conservation efforts have been launched in Mali with funding from the Global Environment Facility under the auspices of the UNDP, which aims to significantly increase the area under protection. In addition, it attempts to strengthen management tools to achieve a sufficient protection area.
Boucle du Baoule national park along the Baoulé River in the west and the Ansongo-Ménaka Animal Reserve and Douentza (Gourma) Elephant Reserve in the east are major wildlife sanctuaries.
Best time to see wildlife in Mali
November to February is a relatively good time to travel to mail.