Addax, Atlas Kasbah, black-winged stilt, Dorcas Gazelle, Golden Fringe-toed Lizard, Great Cormorant, greater flamingo, hoopoe, linnet, Little egret, Moroccan Magpie, Morocco, North African Ostrich, osprey, Red-necked Ostrich, Ruddy Shelduck, Sanderling, Scimitar oryx, Souss Massa National Park, White stork, Woodchat Shrike
Wednesday 11th March was mammals day. For that we visited the Souss Massa National Park, and learnt something of its conservation work. We went in four 4x4s, so that each of us had a window. They put me in the front seat of the vehicle driven by Mohammed in case I needed to communicate urgently with the driver. (I didn’t.)
The Park was set up in 1991 in recognition of the area’s importance as a breeding ground for certain birds, including the Northern Bald Ibis. To quote Wikipedia, “Souss-Massa also holds captive-breeding programmes for four threatened North African ungulates: scimitar oryx, addax, dama gazelle [not on our target list] and dorcas gazelle, … The reintroduction of the North African ostrich – which is extinct north of the Sahara – is also underway.” With the exception of the Dama Gazelle, we saw all of these. The Rokein Special Reserve, where goats are kept out and as a result the vegetation is more lush, is where the conservation work is done and where we saw the mammals (and the ostriches).
We had our packed lunch standing in a shelter, and among other things, watched a sea mist…
… rolling in.
but, although we drove through a little mist as we left, it came to nothing. The drought continues.
After a stop at a local pottery and café, where I had a much-craved ice-cream, we were driven to the mouth of the Oued (River) Souss, and stood on a bridge to see what we could see, hoping for flamingos.
For our final stop, we were driven over the bridge, and further downstream to a rather unprepossessing spot, where we could see a two-poled pylon in the far distance.
Immediately to our left was a telegraph pole.
A final look round revealed a Little Egret …
and some Sanderlings. Or so Mohammed said, and he was very good at his wildlife.
Before dinner, it was Hélène’s turn to invite us into the salon of the Atlas Kasbah. She opened her big wooden box, which like all Moroccan brides (she is French) she received on her wedding day. It was full of traditional health and beauty items, and she explained the purpose of every one. A question at the end (from me) about covering her hair at the school where she teaches (she doesn’t, though the fact that it is a French school may have something to do with it?) led to an immense amount of information about the role of women in Morocco – considerably more liberated than in many other Moslem countries.