One of the most endangered ecosystems on the planet is the Senegal River basin and specifically acacia forests. The area of the Senegal River is traditionally associated with the abundance of fish, wildlife, grazing land, and vegetation, with the most remarkable being acacias. The ecosystem is reminiscent of the Nile, as floodwaters of the river irrigated a vast land area making it fertile and supporting indigenous communities (Kotschoubey). The floodwaters were also beneficial for several species of fish and shrimp, as they served as a nursery home for juveniles. In short, the Senegal River Delta is a fragile ecosystem that can be easily disrupted by human activities.
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In recent years, the ecosystem has been severely disturbed to the level of becoming endangered. According to Kotschoubey, the primary reason for the degradation of the area is the lack of water due to human activity. Indeed, the construction of dams and roads can severely affect water routes making ecosystems change accordingly. Another reason for environmental changes is intensive agriculture, as irrigation canals are built to support crop yields (Kotschoubey). These canals and new fields also interfere with the natural water flow, causing extended droughts. As annual floods decrease in volumes due to the disruption of natural water routes, more saline water of the Atlantic Ocean penetrates the land (Kotschoubey). Ocean waters pose a threat to the drinking water supply and agriculture in general. In short, the central problem with the ecosystem of the Senegal River is the alteration of the natural river flow.
Special attention needs to be paid to the effect of intensive agriculture and livestock exploitation. The problem is acacia forest devastation due to the need for new fields for crops and cattle food. Deforestation has caused decreased biodiversity, and some animals and birds that helped to maintain the ecological balance disappear. Moreover, intensive agriculture is associated with the use of fertilizers that disrupt natural biogeochemical cycles, which can cause severe environmental problems, such as the disappearance of vegetation cover, soil erosion, and reduction of fauna. Due to the rapid environmental degradation of the region, the situation has to be addressed to save the ecosystem from disappearance.
Even though the problems described above are difficult to overcome, there are ways of restoring the ecosystem. The only way to preserve the Senegal River Delta in its natural state is to let the water back into the basin. The exact measures are described and assessed by Kotschoubey and seem to be feasible. However, there is a consideration to be made in terms of the financial aspect of the measure. As the International Union for Conservation of Nature has included Senegal River acacia forests in its top ten most threatened ecosystems, the place is becoming increasingly popular. Therefore, it can be positioned as a tourist attraction, and the raised money can be used to restore the environment. In short, even though the matter requires considerable investments and efforts, the Senegal River Delta can be returned to its natural state.
Kotschoubey, Nicolas. “Rehabilitation of the Ecological Functions of the Senegal River Delta.” Business and Public Administration Studies, vol. 11, no.1, 2017, Web.
International Union for Conservation of Nature: Red List of Ecosystems. IUCN, Web.