The only permanent freshwater pond in Rabat, Daya Takkadoum, is currently being dredged to build a retail market. This project is illegal and is being endorsed by the governor of the Rabat-Salé-Kénitra region, who responds only to the King Mohammed VI and possibly to the Foundation Mohammed VI for the environment (the latter responsible for the halting of the development of the Dar Bouazza lagoons near Casablanca). GREPOM (BirdLife Morocco) has held a protest and a sit-in at the location and forced the developers to start an environmental impact assessment, something that should have been done before and not now that half of the area is destroyed. We hope that with more awareness the Foundation Mohammed VI will help put an halt to this destruction and take steps to secure this location as a wildlife sanctuary, as well as the nearby marshes of the Bouregreg river which hold one of the biggest ibis colonies in Morocco (last year census revealed at least 204 occupied nests). These two locations have been monitored for a few years by members of GREPOM, including Hassan Hassani, Mohammed Hilmi and Pedro Fernandes.
Here are some facts about these locations.
Daya of Takkadoum
- only permanent natural freshwater lake in Rabat, partially vegetated with Typha
- confirmed breeding site for the following species of patrimonial interest for Morocco (sensu GREPOM): Aythya nyroca (2-4 pairs?), Porphyrio porphyrio (2-3 pairs?), Fulica cristata (5-10 pairs?) and possibly Ixobrychus minutus and Ardeola ralloides.
- wintering site for a number of other species.
- roosting site for hundreds of migrating swallows
- feeding area for the nearby heronry
- a list of recorded species can be seen here.
- this pond is used extensively by the people of the Takkadoum neighbourhood as a leisure area
- it has the potential for environmental education, being a great place to educate students from both Rabat and Salé
- it is an excellent place for urban birdwatching, both for locals and visiting.
- currently being razed for construction! Please see the attached news: http://www.marocnews.fr/2020/01/08/les-zones-humides-au-maroc-arretez-la-destruction-de-la-daya-de-takaddoum-a-rabat/ and http://premiumtravelnews.com/environnement-daya-de-takaddoum-en-danger-ecologique/
- a video of the current state of the daya and the GREPOM protest (in Arabic) can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LVxf8Jc6Bs
- part of the remaining marshes of the Bouregreg river, composed of agricultural fields, grazing grounds, hedges and marshy vegetation with some small cliffs.
- holds possibly the largest colony of Plegadis falcinellus in North Africa, with at least 204 occupied nests counted last Spring. The colony shares location with breeding Cattle Egrets, Little Egrets and Night Herons.
- area is at least occasionally used by Marmaronetta angustirostris as a breeding site. Other species suspected of breeding in the area are Streptopelia turtur, Lanius senator, Falco subbuteo and Alcedo atthis.
- area is used as a stopover place for migrating Ciconia ciconia, with flocks of over one thousand birds regularly seen. It is also used as feeding/nesting grounds for resident birds.
- the shores of the Bouregreg river are also used as a stopover for migrating waders, with some staying during winter.
- a list of recorded species can be seen here.
- another excellent place for local and visiting birdwatchers inside the city of Rabat
- it also has the potential for environmental education, being a great place to educate students from both Rabat and Salé
- there is a road planned to go over this location, right over the heronry. While the road works have not started, it would be wise to bring attention to this site as well to prevent any damage as the breeding season will begin later next month!
These are two wonderful locations that are fated to perish at the hands of development. It would be wonderful if these places could be spared and protected for the benefit of all. Could you please help in sharing this situation within your institutions? We hope that with international attention the governing powers of Morocco might be more sensitive to this ecological destruction and hopefully help set it aside for future generations.
If you have the chance, please consider reaching out the Fondation Mohammed VI: http://fm6e.org/en.html or any other Moroccan entity that might be sensible to an international plea for conservation. Time is running out for Daya Takaddoum, but it is not too late yet.
(info Pedro Fernandes)
P.S. We have started a twitter account for Daya Takaddoum: https://twitter.com/takaddoum . News, images and facts about the place will be posted here.