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Breakthrough training course gives local community hands-on field experience

25-Feb-2009

Photo: Camillo Ponziani (WOW Project Coordination Unit)Parc National du Banc D’Arguin, Mauritania, 25 February 2009 -The small fishing village of Mamghar, located deep in the Parc National du Banc D’Arguin, has been abuzz with activity recently.  For the past six months 20 members of the local Imraguen community have been receiving intensive language training in French under the instruction of Mr. Ahmed Ould Meslem and are now ready to begin a hands-on nature guiding training course.

The course, balancing both theoretical and practical field skills on topics ranging from local geography, history to the ecology of the Parc National du Banc D’Arguin, will also include a ornithological training component.  Once certified, the nature guides will be able to earn additional income accompanying the ecotourists who are drawn to the national park for its amazing array of biodiversity such as turtles, dolphins and the more than two million birds that regularly use this site during their annual migration.

Photo: Hellio & van Ingen

Mamghar is a sleepy fishing community located within the national park fringing on the Saharan desert’s Atlantic coast and where most of the inhabitants are from the Imraguen ethnic group.  The ecotourism initiative, supported by the Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) Project, aims to supplement the subsistence fishing economy in Mamghar.  "It is a source of income that will carry us forward, toward a better future for the entire community," says Ahmed Ould Meslem, the instructor of the French training programme.

Despite its natural assets, tourism numbers have dwindled recently due to the remote location of the park and the fact that it is not particularly known by travelers. Together with a number of international NGOs the Parc National du Banc D’Arguin operates several camps and lodges within the park.  “This is a beautiful place and the tourists will come back soon.  When they do we will be ready,” says Mahmoud Chihaoui, Project Manager of the ecotourism project.  In the meantime “The Wings Over Wetlands Project is playing a pivotal role in creating the foundation for a equitable local tourism industry,” he says.

For more information please also see: WOW Demonstration Project: Banc D'Arguin, Mauritania

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