email a friend
printable version
Location Senegal, St Louis
Central coordinates 16o 12.00' West  16o 9.00' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii
Area 140,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 20m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Site description The site consists of the alluvial Ndiaël basin and the ‘Trois Marigots’ marshes which lie in the flood-plain of the Senegal river, about 60 km north-east of St Louis. The basin lies south of the main road (RN3) linking St Louis and the other northern towns along the Senegal river, about 3 km east of Ross-Bethio and 20 km south-east of the Djoudj wetlands (site SN001). The ‘Trois Marigots’ area lies immediately to the south-west of Ndiaël basin. It consists of three marshes in parallel depressions separated by dunes, varying in length from c.15 km to c.20 km and each only a few hundred metres wide. In the past, and under natural conditions, the basin filled with water annually, as the Senegal river flooded out onto its flood-plain between July and October, and the habitats included areas of Acacia spp. scrub and open water. The basin was fed directly from the river and from nearby Lac de Guiers (site SN003) and, when flooded, the site attracted large numbers of waterbirds; both Afrotropical and Palearctic migrant species.

However, the extensive engineering works (dams, embankments, sluices, etc.) that have been carried out in order to promote irrigated agriculture (mainly rice) in the flood-plain, and described under sites SN001 and SN004, have resulted in the Ndiaël basin remaining largely dry since the 1960s. The water-supply to the Trois Marigots was also greatly reduced by management works at Ndiaoudoum, cutting off this source of flow into the basin. The soils in the basin are impermeable and saline and the vegetation is dominated by annual grasses (Gramineae), such as Paspalum, Panicum and Egragrostis spp., with small Tamarix sp. trees and Typha sp. along the banks of canals and ditches. Some irrigated areas of the site are used for rice cultivation, but the traditional activities of fishing and flood-recession agriculture/pastoralism have declined along with the regime of natural floods. Starting in 1993, a major effort has been made by the Senegalese Direction des Eaux et Forêts and the French ‘Oiseaux Migrateurs du Paléarctique Occidental’ (OMPO) to re-flood the basin annually (see ‘Conservation issues’).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Garganey Spatula querquedula winter  1998  32,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Charadrius alexandrinus winter  1994  1,410 individuals  A4i  Not Recognised 
Ruff Calidris pugnax winter  1993  75,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  100,000-499,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Bassin du Ndiaël Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 10,000 protected area contained by site 10,000  
Ndiael Wildlife Reserve 48,898 protected area contained by site 46,550  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   12%
Wetlands (inland)   3%
Grassland   79%
Desert   4%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
fisheries/aquaculture -
hunting -
nature conservation and research -
water management -

Other biodiversity None known to BirdLife International.

References Direction Générale des Eaux et Forêts du Sénégal/Oiseaux Migrateurs du Paléarctique Occidental (1998), IUCN (1987b), Ramsar (1988), Triplet (1998), Triplet and Yésou (1998).

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Ndiaël basin (including the 'Trois Marigots'). Downloaded from on 22/09/2014

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife