Republic of Mali
Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked nation in Western Africa. Mali is the seventh largest country in Africa, bordering Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with an estimated population of almost 12,000,000 so Mali is the world's 24th-largest country and is comparable in size to South Africa or Peru. Most of the country lies in the southern Sahara, which produces a hot, dust-laden harmattan haze common during dry seasons. The country extends southwest through the subtropical Sahel to the Sudanian savanna zone. Mali is mostly flat, rising to rolling northern plains covered by sand. The Adrar des Ifoghas lies in the northeast. Its capital is Bamako.
Consisting of eight regions, Mali's borders on the north reach deep into the middle of the Sahara, while the country's southern region, where the majority of inhabitants live, features the Niger and Senegal rivers. The country's economic structure centers around agriculture and fishing. Some of Mali's natural resources include gold, uranium, and salt. Mali is considered to be one of the poorest nations in the world.
Present-day Mali was once part of three West African empires that controlled trans-Saharan trade: the Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire (from which Mali is named), and the Songhai Empire. In the late 1800s, Mali fell under French control, becoming part of French Sudan. Mali gained independence in 1959 with Senegal, as the Mali Federation in 1959. A year later, the Mali Federation became the independent nation of Mali in 1960. After a long period of one-party rule, a 1991 coup led to the writing of a new constitution and the establishment of Mali as a democratic, multi-party state.
The country's climate ranges from subtropical in the south to arid in the north. Most of the country receives negligible rainfall; droughts are frequent. Late June to early December is the rainy season. During this time, flooding of the Niger River is common. The nation has considerable natural resources, with gold, uranium, phosphates, kaolinite, salt and limestone being most widely exploited. Mali faces numerous environmental challenges, including desertification, deforestation, soil erosion, and inadequate supplies of potable water.
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Number of Species
Number of bird species: 661
Number of endemics: 1
Mali Firefinch Lagonosticta virata
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Birds of Western Africa
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African Bird Club
Mali contains within its borders huge extremes of habitats, vegetation and avifauna. Key wintering grounds for Palearctic waterbirds and breeding areas for African waterbirds are found where the Niger River forms a large interior delta between the historic cities of Djenne and Timbuktu. The Sahara desert occupies the entire northern half of Mali, and the Sahel zone runs through Mali from east to west, each with its own unique avifauna.
West African Ornithological Society
The West African Ornithological Society grew out of the Nigerian Ornithologists’ Society, which was founded in February 1964. Its object is to promote scientific interest in the birds of West Africa and to further the region’s ornithology, mainly by means of its journal Malimbus (formerly the Bulletin of the Nigerian Ornithologists’ Society). This journal is biannual and bilingual, a unique feature in Africa.The West African Ornithological Society grew out of the Nigerian Ornithologists’ Society, which was founded in February 1964. Its object is to promote scientific interest in the birds of West Africa and to further the region’s ornithology, mainly by means of its journal Malimbus (formerly the Bulletin of the Nigerian Ornithologists’ Society). This journal is biannual and bilingual, a unique feature in Africa.
Guides & Tour Operators
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
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2004 [04 April] - Johannes Vermehren
…This was not a birdwatching trip but I spent as much time in the field as possible. During February I attended an exchange program at Accra University, Ghana. I was based at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra, from where I made some weekend birding-trips to destinations in the vicinity…
2006 [02 February] - Callan Cohen & Michael Mills
This 11-day, exploratory trip was designed to investigate dry-country birding of Mali, combined with visits to Timbuktu and Dogon Country, some of Africa’s most famous historical sites. The main habitats birded were the fringes of the Sahara desert, the Sahel, Guinea Woodlands and the Niger River and associated wetlands. Highlights from this trip included Pharaoh’s/Desert Eagle Owl, Cream-coloured Courser, Red-necked Nightjar, Mali Firefinch, Ferruginous Duck, Egyptian Plover, Little Grey Woodpecker, Western Red-billed Hornbill, Sudan Golden Sparrow, Desert Sparrow, Lavender Waxbill, Fulvous Chatterer, White-crowned Black Wheatear, Desert Lark, Great Snipe, House Bunting and Sardinian Warbler…
2008 [03 March] - Mary Crickmore - Teriya Bugu
…Teriya Bugu, on the banks of the Bani river two hours drive north of Segou, is an affordable retreat and vacation center that was begun by a Catholic priest with a vision for environmentally responsible tourism that would produce economic benefit for local people. The center continues to operate after his death under the management of a Malian Non-Governmental Organization….
Mali's Birding Hotspots
This report summarizes the birds we observed and includes some notes on birding locations found during a business/tourism trip to Mali in fall 2000. We were assigned to scout the popular tourist routes within the country for upcoming general natural history/cultural tours to the region. As a result, we drove way too far for a normal intensive birding trip, but were able to stop mostly whenever we wanted for short walks and to identify top-of-the-tree large birds (as long as we remained somewhat on schedule). Consequently, our list of birds is top-heavy toward the larger roadside species, and a bit lean on the smaller passerines.