Protection of the West African Manatee

The Memorandum of Understanding concerning the concerning the Conservation of the Manatee and Small Cetaceans of Western Africa and Macaronesia was concluded under the auspices of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and came into effect on 3 October 2008. It will remain open for signature indefinitely. It aims to achieve and maintain a favourable conservation status for manatees and small cetaceans of Western Africa and Macaronesia and their habitats and to safeguard the associated values of these species for the people of the region. Various threats, including direct and accidental catch, coastal development, pollution and habitat degradation, have caused West African marine mammal populations to decline rapidly. The West African manatee belongs to the order Sirenia and is one of three manatee species, along with the Amazonian and the American manatee. Being the most threatened of the three species, as noted by the CMS Scientific Council in 1999, it is listed in Appendix II of the Convention. Among the main threats for this species are the destruction of its natural habitats, mangroves and coastal wetlands, by pollution and overexploitation; and the hunting for meat, leather and oil.



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