Location of OBA film 4:3
Djoudj Wildlife Reserve (Parc National des Oiseaux du Djoudj), Senegal River, Senegal
We followed part of the route of the Paris-Dakar Rally as we drove from Nouakchott to Rosso to cross the Senegal River which forms the border between Mauritania and Senegal. There was a distinct difference in culture, dress and music between arab Africa on the Mauritanian side of the river, and black African on the Senegalese side.
Off the Senegal River ferry at Rosso crossing from Arab to Black Africa.
Arriving at Djoudj Wildlife Reserve, Senegal
(Parc National des Oiseaux du Djoudj)
From Rosso we drove to the Djoudj Wildlife Reserve, correctly known as Parc National des Oiseaux du Djoudj, a 16,000 hectare wetland bird sanctuary in the Senegal River delta that was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1981.
Aquatic habitat at Djoudj Wildlife Reserve.
Arid habitat at Djoudj Wildlife Reserve.
Djoudj is home to 1.5million birds including huge flocks of Great white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus), Purple heron (Ardea purpurea), Great egret (Ardea alba), African spoonbill (Platelea alba).
Great white pelicans,Pelecanus onocrotalus, on an island in the Djoudj Wildlife Reserve.
Great white pelicans,Pelecanus onocrotalus
Common warthog,Phacochoerus africanus
We visited the Djoudj Wildlife Reserve to see the crocodiles which were reputedly the same species as those we were planning to search for in the desert.
We found plenty of Nile monitor lizards (Varanus niloticus), presumably growing fat on a diet of eggs and chicks from 1.5million waterbirds.
Nile monitor lizards, Varanus niloticus
And we found Northwest African crocodiles (Crocodylus suchus), adults but much smaller than the Nile crocodiles of East and southern Africa.
Northwest African crocodiles, Crocodylus suchus
We travelled around the reserve filming water and wading birds, crocodiles and monitor lizards. I waded around the swampy areas and into the water courses trying to capture monitors or small crocodiles for closer examination, with only moderate success. And cameraman Mark Stokes was flown over the reserve in a microlite to get aerial shots of us and the reserve and its inhabitants.
Got the shot!
Cameraman Mark Stokes with a double-thumbs up.
Others: (L-R) boat driver, Jon Pinkney (2nd camera), Amy Lansdown-Nasson (AP), Jon Stephens (director), two game guards, Terry Meadowcroft (sound recordist).
We also heard a rumour that these crocodiles were not original wild crocodiles but rather releases from Dakar Zoo in Senegal, introduced as an additional
attraction for the ornithologists and tourists visiting to view water and wading birds.
The fact that these crocodiles has possibly been introduced affected our perception of them from the point of view of OBA and in the end none of the Senegalese footage made the final film.
I did take one thing home from Djoudj Wildlife Reserve, I believe it was here that I contracted malaria for the sixth time, resulting in a nine-day stay in hospital when I returned to the UK, with the worse attack I have suffered since first contracting the disease in 1986.