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Location Senegal, Fatick,Kaolack
Central coordinates 16o 36.00' West  13o 52.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4i, A4iii
Area 180,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 41m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Site description The site consists of the deltas of the seasonal Sine, Saloum and Diombos rivers. It lies south-west of Kaolack, and forms the border with The Gambia at the Atlantic coast, where it is contiguous with Niumi National Park (IBA GM003). The whole delta area covers a linear distance of 72.5 km along the Atlantic coast and stretches 35 km inland. Much of the delta area consists of mangroves (principally Rhizophora spp. and Avicennia nitida), which extend 70 km upstream to Kaolack. The Biosphere Reserve (and IBA) covers an area of 180,000 ha, of which 95,000 ha is marine, rivers or inundated areas (30,000 ha of which is intertidal), and 85,000 ha is terrestrial savanna or forest (either mainland or islands in the river channels). Part of the site (76,000 ha) is designated as a National Park and Ramsar Site (the Parc National du Delta du Saloum). This consists of 61,000 ha of sea and rivers, 7,000 ha of intertidal mangroves and saltwater vegetation and 8,000 ha of terrestrial savanna or forest (including the dry sand-dune forest of ‘Fathala’).

The site consists of sea and sandy coast (including the ‘Pointe de Sangomar’), sand, mud and shell islands and islets, tidal swamps, mangroves, sandbars, lagoons, streams and creeks or ‘bolongs’, savanna and forest. North of the main Saloum river channel, the islets tend to be sandy and subject to infrequent tidal flooding. These areas are either almost devoid of vegetation or colonized by a herb layer, e.g. Sesuvium portulacastrum, Paspalum vaginatum. At the edges, where flooding is seasonal not tidal, flood-plain grasses develop. There are also large areas of saline sand and fossil mangroves (‘tanns’) which support little vegetation, and some mangrove-covered islets. South of the river channel, mangroves growing on mud islets (almost entirely covered at high tide) dominate the area. There is a network of inter-linking channels and additional, seasonal freshwater streams flow in to the delta from the landward side. Towards the eastern end of the site, on areas that are never inundated by salt water, there are baobabs Adansonia digitata and Acacia trees. Some areas of saltmarsh and lagoon are exploited for the production of salt, for example the ‘Salines de Kaolack’, south-west of the town.

The core area (the National Park) and part of the buffer zone of the Biosphere Reserve are owned by the State, but the remainder is owned by the local community and managed through liaison between a rural council and National Park and forest service authorities. Human uses within the park include nature conservation, tourism, and gathering of grasses and other plant products. Activities in areas around the site include livestock-rearing, agriculture (mainly growing of millet), fishing and hunting.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 2 for key species. The site is important for a very wide variety of waterbirds and seabirds, some occurring in large congregations. The marine and coastal zone, and particularly the sandbars and islands, are of huge importance for breeding terns and gulls. On one island alone (Ile aux Oiseaux) a total of 40,000 nests of four species was recorded in 1991, and the largest breeding colony of Sterna maxima in the world (estimated at 40,000 nests in 1999) also occurs here. This makes Ile aux Oiseaux and the Delta du Saloum IBA the most important breeding site for gulls and terns on the coast of Senegal. The highest counts of wintering Larus audouinii in Senegal are recorded from Palmarin, within the site, where it is frequent to abundant, with a maximum single count of 522 birds in January 1997. Occasional small numbers of Phoenicopterus minor occur on the site and there are also sporadic breeding records for the species, but no recorded numbers and most authors agree that the only known West African breeding site is in Mauritania. In addition, five species of the Guinea–Congo Forests (A05) biome have been recorded at this site (see Table 2). These include Anthreptes gabonicus, currently only known from this IBA in Senegal; however, it may be expected to occur on Parc National de Basse Casamance (site SN014), as its habitat does.

The central intertidal zone of river channels, islands, creeks, mangroves and exposed sand and mud is particularly important as a feeding area (especially at low tide) and roosting area for waders and herons. This is the most important site for wintering Casmerodius albus in West Africa, probably the most important site in Senegal for Ardea goliath and the only known breeding site in Senegal for A. cinerea. In addition to its importance for the species listed in the Box, there are significant numbers, close to IBA thresholds, of many other waders, including Haematopus ostralegus, Himantopus himantopus, Burhinus senegalensis and Numenius phaeopus. The zone furthest inland becomes very dry during the dry season, the saltmarshes and salines are of particular importance for Phoenicopterus ruber (including occasional breeding records) and 100 nests of Larus genei were recorded in the ‘Salines de Kaolack’ in 1998. The largest concentrations of wintering Pandion haliaetus recorded in Senegal occur in the site. The Delta du Saloum is very closely linked to sites SN011 and SN012 to the north. There is considerable interchange and movement of birds between these three sites, all of which are of very high importance for wintering, passage and resident waterbirds and seabirds.

Non-bird biodiversity: The marine fauna includes breeding turtles: Dermochelys coriacea (EN), Chelonia mydas (EN), Caretta caretta (EN), Eretmochelys imbricata (CR) and Lepidochelys olivacea (EN). The site is also an important fish spawning and feeding ground (113 species recorded). Coastal and marine mammal species include Trichechus senegalensis (VU), Sousa teuszii (DD) and Stenella spp. The dry forest (Fathala and other islands) contains threatened mammal species typical of the Sudan–Sahel interface, including Piliocolobus badius temmincki (LR/nt), Cephalophus rufilatus (LR/cd) and Redunca redunca (LR/cd).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Bearded Barbet Pogonornis dubius resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus winter  1998  1,300 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia winter  1997  217 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Egretta gularis breeding  1998  1,750 breeding pairs  A4i  Not Recognised 
Egretta gularis winter  1997  1,729 individuals  A4i  Not Recognised 
Great White Egret Ardea alba winter  1997  852 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Pink-backed Pelican Pelecanus rufescens winter  1997  2,254 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Fox Kestrel Falco alopex resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta winter  1998  2,328 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Charadrius alexandrinus winter  1997  2,343 individuals  A4i  Not Recognised 
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola winter  1997  4,358 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula winter  1998  5,610 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Common Redshank Tringa totanus winter  1997  1,952 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres winter  1998  1,995 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Little Stint Calidris minuta winter  1997  14,180 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea winter  1998  16,256 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Sterna nilotica breeding  1997  309 breeding pairs  A4i  Not Recognised 
Sterna nilotica winter  1997  612 individuals  A4i  Not Recognised 
Audouin's Gull Larus audouinii winter  1997  522 individuals  A1  Near Threatened 
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus winter  1998  7,813 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Grey-headed Gull Larus cirrocephalus breeding  1998  4,600 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Grey-headed Gull Larus cirrocephalus winter  1997  1,833 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei breeding  1998  3,350 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei winter  1997  9,086 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia breeding  1998  8,610 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia winter  1997  1,773 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus breeding  1999  40,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus winter  1998  988 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis winter  1997  4,050 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Common Tern Sterna hirundo breeding  1998  80 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Senegal Parrot Poicephalus senegalus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Violet Turaco Musophaga violacea resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Blue-bellied Roller Coracias cyanogaster resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-billed Shrike Corvinella corvina resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Piapiac Ptilostomus afer resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Pied-winged Swallow Hirundo leucosoma resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Senegal Eremomela Eremomela pusilla resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Blackcap Babbler Turdoides reinwardii resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Purple Glossy-starling Lamprotornis purpureus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-crowned Robin-chat Cossypha albicapilla resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-fronted Black-chat Myrmecocichla albifrons resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver Plocepasser superciliosus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Bush Petronia Petronia dentata resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-winged Pytilia Pytilia phoenicoptera resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Lavender Waxbill Estrilda caerulescens resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-rumped Waxbill Estrilda troglodytes resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  1997-1998  50,000-99,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   
A4iii Species group - waterbirds breeding  1997-1999  100,000-499,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2001 high not assessed medium
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Most of site (50-90%) covered (including the most critical parts for important bird species)  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Delta du Saloum National Park 59,934 protected area contained by site 76,000  
Delta du Saloum UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve 180,000 is identical to site 180,000  
Delta du Saloum Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 73,000 protected area contained by site 73,000  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   48%
Wetlands (inland)   17%
Shrubland   3%
Grassland   1%
Forest   28%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
fisheries/aquaculture -
forestry -
nature conservation and research -
tourism/recreation -
other -
Notes: Gathering of natural products; small-scale salt production.

References Bengtsson (1995), Jones (1993), Keijl et al. (1999), Peeters et al. (1998), Schepers et al. (1998).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Delta du Saloum. Downloaded from on 23/11/2014

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