Species of the Day: West African Manatee


The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(tm)

Photo credit: Tomas Diagne, Oceanium Dakar


The West African Manatee, Trichechus senegalensis, is listed as ‘VULNERABLE’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM. The least-known of the Sirenians (Manatees and Dugongs), the West African Manatee inhabits shallow coastal waters, wetland systems and rivers from Senegal to Angola.

Incidental capture in nets, and hunting for meat, skin, bones and oil occurs throughout most of its range. Habitat loss is an additional threat, as a result of the damming of rivers, cutting of mangroves for firewood, coastal development, and the destruction of wetlands for agricultural development. The situation is likely to be exacerbated by climate change.

Although the West African Manatee is listed on Appendix II of CITES and is protected by national laws in all countries where it lives, high levels of human poverty in the region make effective conservation extremely challenging. Fortunately, fifteen countries and three NGOs have recently agreed to work together to conserve the manatees and small cetaceans of West Africa and the Macaronesian Islands, based on a Manatee Action Plan.


Geographic Range of the West African Manatee

Credit: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™


Read about the plight of dugongs being caused by overhunting here!


To learn more about the West African Manatee, click here.  Or visit the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ by clicking their logo below.

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To learn more about the Bush Warriors “Species of the Day” feature, please click here and read up on our initiative to raise awareness about the loss of earth’s biodiversity.