Gazetted in 1971 and 1972 respectively, the 6,000km2 Réserve de faune du Ferlo Nord and 6,337km2 Ferlo Sud are together (despite being bisected by the RN3) among the largest protected areas in the Sahel, and encompass a dry and unforgiving terrain of flat, semi-desert thorn savannah surrounded by equally wild grazing lands where the handful of Fulbe (Peul) residents eke out a living with their cattle and sheep.
A refuge for under-protected ungulates, most of its residents have been reintroduced after a disappearance of years or decades, but it’s also home to a remnant population of red-fronted gazelle (Eudorcas rufi frons), which are classifi ed as vulnerable by the IUCN. Within the reserve, a 12km2 fenced enclosure was set up near Katané village & expanded several
times to accommodate reintroductions of scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah), Dama gazelle (Nanger dama), and Dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas). The scimitar-horned oryx is completely extinct in the wild, Dama gazelle is critically endangered and was locally extinct in Senegal until its reintroduction here in 2003, and the vulnerable Dorcas gazelle was also locally extinct until its reintroduction. Numbers are small but growing, with an estimated 120 oryx and smaller numbers of the two gazelle present in 2014. The reserve works in partnership with the Guembeul Special Reserve near Saint-Louis where many of the animals are fi rst introduced after being sourced from zoos and sanctuaries abroad, and before being relocated to Ferlo.
Both halves of the reserve are also designated as Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and 184 species have been recorded between the two, many of them palearctic migrants. Among them are two types of bustard (Arabian and Sevile’s), the Sahelian woodpecker, golden nightjar, Sudan golden sparrow, and a number of raptors. The ranger camp (n15.486511,–14.110174) and enclosure at Katané village are some 30km of rough bush tracks northwest of Ranérou. There are
no facilities here for guests; the reserves are entirely undeveloped for tourism (or much else), and this is about as remote as it’s possible to get in Senegal. Thus, you should prepare to be self-suffi cient with all food, water and other supplies, and it’s highly recommended that you contact the Guembeul Special Reserve if you’d like to plan a visit.