Banc d’Arguin National Park on the Mauritanian coast is a jewel in West Africa’s conservation crown.

Vast mudflats, sand banks, seagrass meadows and mangroves support an abundance of life, sheltering over two million wintering shorebirds from northern Europe, Siberia and Greenland.

A mild climate and minimal human disturbance make the park one of the most important breeding sites in the world for huge flocks of Palearctic waders and Afrotropical species like flamingos, broad-billed sandpipers, pelicans and terns.

Turtles, sharks and rays all call it home, and hundreds of fish species make surrounding waters some of the most productive fishing grounds in the world.

Banc d'Arguin from above (c) Hellio Van Ingen

Wetland awakening

Visiting the Banc d’Arguin National Park for the first time for a gathering of the International Waterfowl & Wetlands Research Bureau (now Wetlands International) in 1982, Luc realised the significance of the wetland.

Collaborating with Mauritanian authorities and international conservation organisations, he helped establish the International Foundation of the Banc d’Arguin (FIBA) in 1986 to support conservation in the region.

Evolving threats

Although a World Heritage Site since 1976 and a Wetland of International Importance since 1982, climate change, offshore exploration and overfishing by international fleets in waters outside the park continue to pose threats.

Vols de limicoles, Ile de Niroumi (c) Hellio Van Ingen
Banc d'Arguin (c) Hellio Van Ingen

Trust fund for the future

With the KfW Development Bank, the Le Fonds Français pour l’Environnement Mondial (FFEM) and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), MAVA helped to establish Banc d’Arguin and Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Trust Fund (BACoMaB) in 2009 to support the preservation of the Mauritanian coast.

Merging in 2015, MAVA and FIBA continue to promote recognition of the Banc d’Arguin and the region’s natural value by government, business and civil society.

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