This is about organising outings for Ranérou school children in the natural habitat of the furrowed turtles (Centrochelys sulcata) in Katané. The children will be able to discover animals that they do not know very well or have never seen before such as the turtle. They must have heard of them in African tales….. but that is all. The furrowed turtle is ambassador to the endangered species in the Ferlo for the children participating in these outings. They will have the opportunity of seeing the turtles that were reintroduced into the Ferlo in 2006 while discovering their daily life.
The Ferlo is a Sahelian region in the North-East of Senegal. It is the last known region in the country where the following rare species of the Sahel still survive: the Thomson’s gazelle, the Red-necked ostrich, the Great Bustard but also the Furrowed turtle which is surviving with much difficulty in this part of the Senegalese Sahel. The story is the same for some plant species such as the Wild jujube of Barbary or the Baobab, which are useful trees to man for their fruits, leaves, barks, and roots and of which the numbers are greatly decreasing in all of Africa.
The Ferlo, just like the whole Sahel, is facing great threats: desertification, overgrazing, and destruction of the natural habitat. To stop the upsurge in these threats, the Senegalese government decided, in 2001, to create a 1000ha zone protected from herds and human activities. This “enclosure” is situated near the small village of Katané, in the wildlife Reserve of North Ferlo. The positive results from this enclosure are tangible. The flora there quickly regenerated and the fauna found the needed respite for its survival. Several species that had disappeared from the zone have been successfully reintroduced there: the scimitar oryx, dama gazelle, dorcas gazelle, and the furrowed turtle. However, because of its rarity, the Sahelian biodiversity has become unknown to men. As the saying goes: “we can only protect what we know”.
At Ranérou, the town leading to the reserve (situated about 30km from Katané); the children know neither the turtle nor the fauna of their region. However, Ranérou’s school children are the first ones to be involved in the awareness actions on the protection of the biodiversity. Indeed, in a few years from now, they will be the ones to make important decisions for their region and its conservation will be based on the knowledge they have of it. So, the principle is simple: to spend a day there with an experienced forest patroller, an officer of the Parks and a host to lead the children to discover what happens at Katané. The children will, thus, have the opportunity to discover this flora and fauna that have become rare, their specificity and their threats. Each theme is review, explained, and expatiated on with the help of the secondary school’s biology teachers and the officers of the national parks.
In order to involve the whole community in the “Katané adventure”, the village youths and the community radio will be accompanying these school children during the outing thus allowing the parents to follow in their children’s adventures in the evenings when they go on air to recount their day and especially their discoveries and feelings. The Ranérou community radio is a powerful media tool in the region since it is the only accessible station. All the families in the department as well as in the department of neighbouring Matam listen to this radio in the evenings.
Abu Beidi Bâ is an experienced forest patroller who accompanies children on forest outings. Abu knows “his savanna” like no other person. Born in the Ferlo, he listened to his father’s tales about lions and elephants running in the Ferlo during the wet season and he himself has known the region when it was rich in savage wildlife. He is conscious of the rapid loss of the sole wealth of his region and of the advance of the desert. An unconditional nature lover, Abu decided to work with SOPTOM right from the beginning of the adventure, more than ten years ago.
Today, he will love to share his experience of the savanna with the young Ferlankese while warning them of the danger that a diminishing biodiversity could pose. This is why he had decided to, personally, organise and host these nature outings with the children.
Classes on nature have, up to now, been for only secondary school pupils. We would like to extend this activity to all the pupils in Ranérou. With your donations, we can organise broadcasts over the community radio, as well as transportation and food supplies for these children during outings.
The most generous donor will regularly receive information on the turtle of his/her choice that he/she would have chosen a first name for and that will become “his/her turtle” – knowing about its growth, health, behaviours and even its suitor(s) as well as rivals. You will discover the daily life of your protégé (e) during the course of the time it spends in its natural habitat.
Nature outings continue. At present, all Year 6 pupils have visited Katané. It is the Year 10 pupils’ turn, so they can now link their biology lessons to real-life situations - an ecosystem, life cycles and food chains - in the Katané enclosure.
The turtle game was distributed, throughout the department, during the environmental education training in Ranérou on February 13 and 14, 2015. On the same occasion and to boost awareness raising and environmental education actions, all the primary school teachers, and junior as well as senior high school principals from Ranérou, Loumbol, Patouki, Fourdou, Gasse Doro, Katané, Wendou makam, Younoufere, Kack, Lougré Thioly, Vélingara and Thionokh were invited.
Thanks to SOPTOM and our local champion, Awa Sylla, remote communities also enjoy the turtle game.
It was very early in the morning of April 24th when our project team, thanks to the help of the Senegalese National Park’s Authority, reached the small localities of Pataki and Wendou Wakam, situated only 15 kilometres from the Ferlo Natural Reserve. We came to pick up 28 school children, who were excited to discover the wildlife of the Natural Reserve of the Ferlo. Although living next to the Natural Reserve, many of them never visited the Reserve with its rich fauna and flora: furrowed turtles, dorcas and dama gazelle, and scimitar oryx. The “nature excursion” was very appreciated not only by the school children but also by the teachers Mr Sall et Diedhiou.
The 7th « nature excursion » was offered to 26 school children from Gassé Doro, a village situated about 10 kilometres from Ranerou, the town leading to the Natural Reserve of Katané. The school’s director and teachers were also participating in the excursion. There were also some unexpected participants. All were very excited to discover the wildlife of Katané. The visit was very successful for our sensitization program in particular on the protection of the natural habitat of the Suclata Turtle. The children were very eager to learn about the fauna of the Natural Reserve and memorized very well the observations and information gathered during the excursion. Based on this practical experience, the sensitization program will continue in the classroom.
Senegal, Ranérou, 2nd March
“We will tell you about our visit to the Katané enclosure. Already at 7:30 am all pupils were waiting for the departure at the school entrance. Some minutes later the cars arrived. In two groups we boarded the cars. Let’s go to Katané! We arrived at 9:00 am. We were warmly welcomed by the chief guard of the Katané natural reserve. Miss Manue and Abou, both working within the natural reserve, explained to us the “nitty grittiy” of the reserve’s wild life. Then, we took the cars to visit the Katané reserve. First we were observing the animals. Then we were looking for a Sulcata turtle. Thanks to the monitoring equipment, radio with a big antenna and a receiver, we eventually found the turtle hided in its hole. Abou gave us a lot of information about the turtle’s habits and behaviour. We then continued our visit and through binoculars we were able to observe gazelles drinking from a water source. There was one “pregnant” and two small antelopes. Then we left the reserve to return to the guard’s house. Miss Manue and the guard told us a lot of interesting things about turtles and the other animals. There was a lot of information for us to notice. But we also received sweets and drinks ;). After a short rest, we boarded the cars and returned to our school town Ranérou.”
“Indeed, we spent nice time and learned a lot about the turtle”, Ibrahima Sylla
“The outing to Katané was magnificent”, Yero Ousmane Ba
”What a wonderful visit to the natural reserve, which allowed us to learn more about the wildlife”, Fatimata Wellé
“The visit was very nice. I really like to returne to the natural reserve”, Ousmane Abdoul Sow
“Magnificent!”, Djiby Ndiaye
Explanation how to use the binoculars for the observation of antelopes and gazelles
The scholars are looking for a Sulcata turtle
The Sulcata turtle
Our champion Abou talks with passion about his experience and knowledge on the Ferlo’s wildlife
Since November the patroller Abou Baïdi Bâ has been accompanied by the new volunteer Anne-Emmanuelle Landes, which replaced Anneline Grenouilloux, and is continuing the furrowed turtle and Ferlo’s environment conversation program.
Yesterday, our champions Abu Beidi Bâ and Anneline organized the first nature excursion of the Ranérou’s school children to the natural habitat of the furrowed turtles in Katané.
The pupils of the 6th class were the lucky ones to open the series of excursion and to learn more about the turtle and the fauna of their region.
More news and photos to come … stay tuned to our Ecoblog!