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by Jerry W. Bird


I am Djibouti, a country where concerned citizens are taking the initiative to preserve, protect and provide a new life for our precious wildlife. A shining example of this dedication is the Decan Animal Refuge, a short drive beyond city limits, not far from my border with Somalia.

Just beyond the park gates is a lookout building which gives the visitors an overview of this exciting and worthwhile project that provides a temporary home in natural setting for animals that were the unfortunate victims of poachers and smugglers. It is a protected zone of 30 hectares, of which over half of the total area has been fenced to allow the growth of vegetation. According to founder and operator Bertrand Lafrance of the many activities carried on by his worthy nonprofit operation is a reproduction program for the East African Cheetah. The family of six cheetah currently living at the DECAN Refuge have all been seized from the illegal smuggling trade thanks to cooperation with the Djiboutian police.

This program is followed by the UICN. In the beginning The DECAN Association, which stands for "discover and help nature," was created in May 2001 and is approved by the Ministry of Environment. Its goal is to protect wildlife and develop the knowledge of nature throughout Djibouti. The program started with an important campaign on the protection of sea turtles. As Bertrand Lafrance stated, "We first drew up a list of the restaurants that offer turtle meat on their menu - then we printed posters and posted the in key public places. This year we will apply the same method to denounce the illegal commerce of antelopes. We estimate there are 100 sea turtles, ostriches and natural reserves. Deeply concerned by lack of attention to environmental The DECAN Animal Refuge is open to

the public two day a week. Each visitor is informed of the association's concept and method, which is very different from a zoo's approach in the sense that most provided at no charge, such as birds, squirrels, mongoose, genets and hares. DECAN works closely with the local schools. Prior to opening the refuge, Lafrance and his colleagues presented as increase the youngsters' awareness of the

environment and ecological issues. When students come to the refuge in order to experience nature, they find themselves immersed in an ecological rehabilitated area. The operators noticed that few

teachers were capable of giving a lecture on ecology, and as a result, the Association has scheduled training for teachers. To begin the construction of the refuge, DECAN received financial help from the French Cooperation amounting to two payments of 10 000 euro each. Opening the refuge to visitors allows them to ensure the salaries of employees from the nearby village. As Lafranc e concludes, "At the moment, our biggest concern is lack of time, for we are all volunteers. The DECAN association tries to highlight

the natural resources of Djibouti with the objective to develop public awareness of the incredible environmental diversity of the country and of the necessity to protect it." For more information E-mail: b.lafrance@ internet.dj or visit www.africa-ata.org/ djibouti.htm




Country Profile: The Republic of The Gambia is named after one of Africa's most navigable rivers, the Gambia and is located in West Africa. The Gambia is roughly twice the size of the state of Delaware in the United States and occupies a narrow area on either side of the Gambia River, forming an enclave in Senegal surrounded on its north, east and south borders by Senegal. A former British colony, the Republic of The Gambia became independent on February 18, 1965. In 1994, The Gambia began a transformation from military to civilian rule and liberalized its economy and initiated a Vision 2020 Plan "The Gambia Incorporated" with the aim of transforming the smallest country in Africa into a middle income country by offering a stable investment environment, efficient banking sector, and competitive private sector.

Pristine Beaches and CoastlineThe Gambia is known for its beautiful beaches and warm coastal waters which are a haven for tourists with a tropical climate that is relatively hot and humid throughout the year. The main ethnic groups are the Mande, including the rural Mandinka, and the Atlantic peoples including the Wolof and Fulani. English is the official language but Wolof and Fulani are spoken in the towns and Mandinka in the rural areas. The population of The Gambia is approximately 1.5 million inhabitants with about 85% of the population that are Muslim and a sizable Christian minority. The capital of The Gambia is Banjul, with about 300,000 inhabitants, is also the main port and main commercial center along the River Gambia. The people of The Gambia live harmoniously in mixed communities, freely exercising their religious and cultural traditions. Gambians are also widely recognized for their genuine friendliness and hospitality.

The main resources of foreign exchange are agriculture and tourism with agriculture accounting for 23% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employing 75% of the workforce. Groundnuts, covering 60% of The Gambia's arable land are the main export crop. The Gambia also has had considerable success in developing and promoting its tourist industry, which contributes about 16% of GDP. In 2000, approximately 100,000 tourists visited The Gambia which earned the country an estimated $35 million and provided an estimated 10,000 Gambians with stable employment in this sector. Home of Kunta Kinte of RootsPerhaps most Americans know about The Gambia as a result of Alex Haley's bestseller and epic television docudrama "Roots" which focused on Kunta Kinte and his ancestral homeland of Juffureh. The Gambia also has tremendous potential in the fishing industry which has yet to be fully developed as well as a small manufacturing industry with plastic goods and confectionaries as the main products. The Gambia is also an important entry point for goods that are distributed to its neighboring countries in West Africa and has specifically targeted itself as the most logical "gateway" into West Africa for the trans-shipment (re-export market) of imports and exports. To learn more about The Gambia please check out www.visitthegambia.

World Heritage Committee Inscribes 24 New Sites on the World Heritage List New sites include, for the first time, sites in Gambia 

The inscriptions were carried out by the World Heritage Committee at its 27th session.


For more information visit www.africa-ata.org/gambia.htm


Gambia: James Island and Related Sites

James Island and Related Sites present a testimony to the main periods and facets of the encounter between Africa and Europe along the River Gambia, a continuum that stretched from pre-colonial and pre-slavery times to independence. The site is particularly significant for its relation to the beginning and the abolition of the slave trade. It also documents early access to the interior of Africa.