Covering 180,000 hectares, the Sine-Saloum Delta, formed at the mouth of the Saloum and Sine rivers, is the centre of a vast area of mangroves, river islands and saltwater channels that stretches along the coast of Senegal, south of Dakar for approximately 75 kilometres.
The Saloum Delta National Park is one of Senegal’s six national parks, with an area of 76,000 hectares, occupying a significant part of the Delta’s surface area. Declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1980, and World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2011, the Saloum lies on a natural migration route used by 90 million birds a year. In 1984, it was declared a Ramsar site, as it is considered one of the richest ecosystems of the West African coast for aquatic and wetland species. With more than 100 species of birds, fish and crustaceans, and land and sea mammals, the Delta is a wintering ground for many European and African waterbirds.
Sine-Saloum contains more than 200 artificial mounds formed by the accumulation of shellfish shells, the result of sustainable fishing practices and shellfish gathering by the communities that once inhabited the region. Twenty-eight of these mounds have been found to contain funerary sites in the form of tumuli, testimony to the history and culture of the first human settlements located in this area of West Africa.
The collection and sale of seafood is one of the main sources of income for thousands of women and their families. This activity is crucial for the protection of the fragile mangrove ecosystem of the delta.
The route of the Sine-Saloum Delta invites us to enjoy one of coastal and river ecosystems of Senegal with the greatest natural wealth, and to get to know the culture and lifestyle of the communities of the delta, traditionally dedicated to agriculture and fishing. These communities are using sustainable tourism to struggle to adapt to an economic, social and environmental setting that is seriously threatened by the impact of climate change.