La gazelle 72 - Page 134

Les rives du lac Ichkeul I The shores of Lake Ichkeul I »‫«اشلك‬ ‫حبرية‬ ‫ضفاف‬ A stroll along Lake Ichkeul Located in Northern Tunisia, between Mateur and Tinja cities, Lake Ichkeul – a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980 - is a perfect gem for many species of migratory birds. Ultimate remnant of a chain of freshwater lakes that stretch all over North Africa, Lake Ichkeul is an exceptional site, both for its historical value and its essential role in the protection of certain animal species. Every Summer, the lake welcomes flocks of pink flamingos, while in Winter, it is the perfect habitat for several hundred thousand migratory birds before returning to the sub-Saharan Africa’s warm plains. Whistling ducks, greater scaups, common coots and greylag geese massively populate this 2,080-km² wetland, as well as some endangered species such as marbled marlins, slender-billed curlews, white-headed ducks, in addition to many raptors and geese. This remarkable bird concentration is mainly caused by Ichkeul Lake’s very particular hydrological functioning. During the cold season, the lake is supplied with fresh water by the surrounding wadis, allowing the proliferation of flora and fish. During the hot season, it takes care of saline water drawn from the Mediterranean. This fragile balance depends on the sustainability of the lake’s ecosystem, which was on the List of World Heritage in Danger from 1996 to 2006. A habitat of incredible biodiversity, Ichkeul Lake is also an incredible destination for nature lovers. The lucky ones may meet on their way domestic buffaloes, porcupines, genets or even African wildcats coming to drink at the edge of the lake. Little known to the general public, Ichkeul Lake offers a real peaceful retreat, away from major tourist sites’ chaos.I