Islamic Republic of Mauritania

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas galactotes ©Steve Arlow Website
Birding Mauritania

Mauritania, officially the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, is a country in northwest Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west, by Senegal on the southwest, by Mali on the east and southeast, by Algeria on the northeast, and by the Morocco-controlled Western Sahara on the northwest. It is named after the ancient Berber kingdom of Mauretania. The capital and largest city is Nouakchott, located on the Atlantic coast.At 397,929 square miles (1,030,700 km²),[16] Mauritania is the world’s 29th-largest country (after Bolivia). It is comparable in size to Egypt. Mauritania is generally flat, its 1,030,700 square kilometers (397,850 sq mi) forming vast, arid plains broken by occasional ridges and clifflike outcroppings. A series of scarps face southwest, longitudinally bisecting these plains in the center of the country. The scarps also separate a series of sandstone plateaus, the highest of which is the Adrar Plateau, reaching an elevation of 500 meters (1,640 ft). Spring-fed oases lie at the foot of some of the scarps. Isolated peaks, often rich in minerals, rise above the plateaus; the smaller peaks are called guelbs and the larger ones kedias. The concentric Guelb er Richat (also known as the Richat Structure) is a prominent feature of the north-central region. Kediet ej Jill, near the city of Zouîrât, has an elevation of 1,000 meters (3,280 ft) and is the highest peak.Approximately three quarters of Mauritania is desert or semidesert. As a result of extended, severe drought, the desert has been expanding since the mid-1960s. To the west, between the ocean and the plateaus, are alternating areas of clayey plains (regs) and sand dunes (ergs), some of which shift from place to place, gradually moved by high winds. The dunes generally increase in size and mobility toward the north.

A majority of the population still depends on agriculture and livestock for a livelihood, even though most of the nomads and many subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts in the 1970s and 1980s. Mauritania has extensive deposits of iron ore, which account for almost 50% of total exports. With the current rises in metal prices, gold and copper mining companies are opening mines in the interior. The nation’s coastal waters are among the richest fishing areas in the world, but overexploitation by foreigners threatens this key source of revenue.

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 559

    (As at September 2018)
  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
  • iGoTerra Checklist

    Mauritania WP
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • Birds of Mauritania - Oiseaux de Mauritanie

    | By Paul Isenmann | Societé d'Etudes Ornithologiques de France | 2010 | Paperback | 408 pages, colour photos | ISBN: 9782916802022 Buy this book from
  • Birds of Western Africa

    | By Nik Borrow & Ron Demey | Christopher Helm | 2014 | Edition 2 | Paperback | 592 pages, 266 plates with colour illustrations; colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781472905680 Buy this book from
  • Birds of Western and Central Africa

    | By Ber van Perlo | Princeton University Press | 2003 | Paperback | 384 pages, 109 plates with colour illustrations; colour & b/w illustrations, 1500+ b/w distribution maps, colour maps | ISBN: 9780691007144 Buy this book from
  • The Birds of the Banc d'Arguin

    | By Paul Isenmann | La Fondation Internationale du Banc d'Arguin | 2006 | Paperback | 191 pages, colour photos | ISBN: 9782951491472 Buy this book from
  • African Bird Club

    Relatively few birders have been to Mauritania and ornithological surveys have been largely restricted to the coastal zone. With the Sahara Desert covering over 60% of the country and the resulting travel difficulties, this is hardly surprising. However, Mauritania has some of the most important coastal wetlands in Africa and with a species list of over 500, the intrepid birdwatcher will be well rewarded
  • West African Ornithological Society

    The West African Ornithological Society grew out of the Nigerian Ornithologists

Abbreviations Key

  • IBAs

    WebsiteSatellite View
    The Saharan-Sindian biome covers much of the north and centre of the country whilst the southern third of the country falls within the Sahel biome. 14 species belonging to each of these biomes has been recorded. In addition, small elements of the Sudan-Guinea Savanna biome are found in the extreme south of the country and 12 species of this biome have been recorded. The most important site ornithologically is the Banc d
  • NP Banc d'Arguin

    InformationSatellite View
    The World Heritage Site is a major breeding site for migratory birds, including flamingos, broad-billed sandpipers, pelicans and terns. Much of the breeding is on sand banks including the islands of Tidra, Niroumi, Nair, Kijji and Arguim. The surrounding waters are some of the richest fishing waters in western Africa and serve as nesting grounds for the entire western region.
  • NP Diawling

    InformationSatellite View
    Until the sixties the lower delta of the Senegal river was an area of extraordinary ecological richness. Consisting of a mosaic of dunes, floodplains and estuarine zones with mangroves, the area was known for its rich birdlife (Naurois 1969) and important fisheries (Reizer 1971). Several tens of thousand of people, practising a variety of activities, found a livelihood there. Since then the environmental quality has deteriorated, first by the diminishing floods and rainfall, later by the alterations brought about by the large-scale hydraulic engineering works under the authority of the OMVS, Organisation pour la Mise en Valeur du Fleuve Sénégal, a trilateral organisation grouping Mali, Senegal and Mauritania.
Trip Reports
  • 2018 [02 February] - Hans Meltofte - Senegal and Mauritania including Banc d’Arguin

    PDF Report
    Annotated list.
  • 2018 [03 March] - Rupert Hafner

    PDF Report
    On the other hand we have been lucky to find quickly Abyssinian Roller, Grey-headed Gull and Blue-naped Mousebird. All in all it was a fantastic trip with a lot of experience for all of us. On the whole tour we never had any unsafe feeling!
  • 2018 [04 April] - Bob Swann

    PDF Report
    This was a privately organised trip initiated by Dan Pointon. Participants were Dan, Josh Jones, Kris de Rouck, Peter Stronach and myself. We contacted Justus Buma at based at Bab Sahara in Atar, who arranged the logistics (at 750 Euro pp). Dan booked flights by Air Mauritania from Gran Canaria to Mauritania, and we arranged our own flights to and from Gran Canaria. …
Other Links
  • Biodiversity in Mauritania

    Mauritania has several National Parks and Nature Reserves. Banc d`Arguin is probably the most famous. It has been put on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1989.
  • Mauritania Information

    Mauritania is a bird watcher`s paradise: starlings, weaver birds, pelicans, cormorants, herons, terns and ducks are among the birds which can be seen. A variety species of birds can be found in the Banc d`Arguin National Park
  • Birding Rob - Birding For A Lark

    I now live comfortably in Bulgaria and in Spain but have worked in other countries - Azerbaijan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Oman and now Mauritania. No longer spending hours commuting I have more time to indulge my passions. That mostly means bird watching and travel.

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