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Flyways to hell? An empirical assessment of Palearctic migratory waterbird harvest practices in key wetlands of Sahel-sub-Saharan Africa

Deniau C., Mathevet R., Gautier D., Besnard A., Cornu G., Le Bel S.. 2022. Biological Conservation, 265 : 10 p..

DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2021.109419

Each year, millions of Palearctic waterbirds migrate between Eurasia and the wintering wetlands of the Sahel-Sahara region. International censuses show these populations are declining. Although hunting is recognised as the second cause of decline after habitat degradation along flyways, waterbird harvesting in the African wintering region remains overlooked. To fill this information gap, we conducted a hunting survey in the seven main Sahel-Saharan wetlands during the wintering season. Based on a socioeconomic, knowledge and off-take questionnaire, we estimated an annual harvesting level proxy per respondent. The results indicated that waterbird harvesting is a widespread practice in the research areas. Based on site, harvesting occurred from opportunistic and food off-take to specialised and commercial hunting. Rallidae and Anatidae were the targeted families, and Afrotropical species were more hunted than Palearctic species. Moreover, most of the targeted species had a ¿least concern¿ status in the IUCN red list of threatened species. Despite the high harvesting levels of the Malian and Egyptian sites, the total off-take seemed to occur at a lower level than at sites in Europe. This first survey conducted on this scale underlined that migratory waterbirds represent only a limited part of the food or income of the Sahel-Saharan human population. In order to secure both sustainable harvesting and environmental justice, international conservation efforts at the flyway level should implement a meaningful integration of Sahel-Saharan population cultural and subsistence needs and should engage all countries in a collaborative conservation and management approach across the entire migratory range.

Mots-clés : conservation de la diversité biologique; gestion des ressources naturelles; chasse; oiseau aquatique; migration animale; anatidae; sénégal; mali; tchad; soudan; Égypte; sahel; oiseau migrateur; rallidae

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