The first nature reserve dedicated to the conservation of nesting and foraging habitat of Adanson’s mud terrapin (Pelusios adansonii) has been created with the help of the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA Africa) and the Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection of Senegal. This refuge, the Tocc Tocc Reserve, is located in the wetland area on the northwest side of Guiers Lake in northern Senegal and covers an area of nearly 750 acres.
Fishermen in the region have played a crucial role in the protection of this freshwater species. Bo Ndiaga, the head of the local community of fishermen noted, “Local communities have played an important role in this process and have committed themselves to stopping the consumption of turtles accidentally caught in their nets. They recognize that ecotourism gained by leaving the terrapins alive will bring more prosperity than hunting and eating turtles.”
The Adanson’s mud terrapin is a protected species in Senegal, but still faces a variety of threats. “As a reminder, the freshwater turtle Pelusios adansonii is fully protected in Senegal by Decree 86.844 of February 1986. Because it is threatened in Senegal, wild populations are only found in the Guiers Lake in the northwest of the country, which is a very limited range. The main threats are a high mortality of specimens due to bycatch and industrial agricultural pollution,” said Captain Cherif Djiite the Senegalese Ministry of Nature Protection.
The creation of this reserve provides hope to avoid the extinction of the species in Senegal and will allow the remaining population of this endangered freshwater turtle to recover gradually.