Al-Rahad/Jabel Al-Dayer- (Sudanow Info.)– “We love this mountain as we love our eyes. We love its stones, trees and animals. We believe it is like us in everything. We have destroyed it for years and we have paid for that. However, we have learnt our lesson and we are now guarding it with our eyes.”
With the touching above expressions, Ismail Aujar, a citizen from Sidrat Al-Jabel village, at Jabel Al-Dayer natural reserve at Al-Rahad area in North Kordofan State, started his briefing to the members of the scientific group from the communities of Atbara, Al-Rahad and Dindir rivers’ basins.
The scientific visit was organized by the community administrative program of water basins, an affiliate to the Nile Basin Initiative, with the aim to get acquainted with how the citizens have preserved the environment of the area together with their experience in this respect
Jabel Al-Dayer (Al-Dayer Mountain) reserve in Al-Rahad locality in North Kordofan State, which its total area is set at 314, 45 kms, is considered the first mountainous biosphere reserve in the country. It tends to preserve the bio-diversity, eco-systems and inherited resources. It further tends to represent the mountainous environment in Sudan, protect the water resources, combat desertification, develop tourism and ensure provision of environmental services for the local communities
Jabel Al-Dayer lies some 23 miles from Al-Rahad town and 61 miles from El-Obeid. It is rich of a unique biological and environmental diversity. It rises for 1416 meters above sea level and contains about 14 species of mammals and 17 types of birds in addition 16 types of reptiles, 25 kinds of natural herbs and 9 types of grass.
The reserve also contains a very rare kind of gazelle, locally known as Al-Tetal which has extinct at all parts of Sudan. It is also known for its falls and water passages which run throughout the year as there are nine water springs in the reserve in addition to 13 water surfaces upon which the wild animals of the area depend. The peak of the mountain is crowded with plains, sand dunes and diversified forest trees
There are 43 villages around the mountain area with mobile markets that attract great numbers of crops and animal resources. 65 percent of the population of these villages performs wood-cutting, 16 percent fishing and the rest work in agriculture.
Ismail Aujar, went on saying that “the mountain represents our lives. We used to consume its trees, vegetation and animals and cultivate its land. It provided us with all our needs. It has provided us with everything, while we gave it nothing. For over 30 years, we had used to setting fires at the area for different purposes which destroyed everything.”
“Suddenly we realized that we have exhausted the resources of the mountain. Our lives have become poorer and or suffering in earning our living has become even harder. Everybody was wondering where the mountain resources have gone and the children accused their fathers of destroying the mountain”, he added.
He said that at the beginning the citizens rejected the idea of dispatching wild life protection police at the area, noting that after discussions with the authorities on the feasibility of the matter, the citizens have agreed.
“We have discovered that we were the first beneficiaries and in the manner that preserves our environment and resources. We then started to protect the mountain in person and organized the fire lines without setting them all the year round”, he explained.
Aujar affirmed that the results were surprising as the grass and trees increased as well as the quantities of the rains, adding that water springs that disappeared for years have reappeared once again
He said the local communities asked the authorities to protect the mountain and worked to declare as a bio reserve, noting that the mountain was declared a national reserve in 2010 by a decision by the President of the Republic.
In the meantime, Lieutenant Khader Al-Sadiq, Director of the reserve, cited many funny stories during their work that he believed were associated with the gradual restoration of the mountain’s natural resources, saying that at the beginning the citizens of the mountain used to come and complain about a monkey, which lived at the administrative site of the reserve that used to damage the groundnuts crop.
He said he used to ask the citizens whether the groundnuts was the natural food for the monkey and they answered no, explaining that he told them in reply that “you cut the trees upon which the monkey used to feed and in turn he ate your crop- an eye for an eye. Therefore, if you stop cutting the trees, the monkey won’t bother you anymore"
He further said that a similar story took place regarding a wild cat, locally known as Abu Rishat, which used to attack and kill the cows and other animals of the citizens of the village because it did not find birds to feed on due bird overhunting by the local citizens.
He reiterated that when the citizens stopped hunting the wild birds, the cat did not bother them or their animals.
He stressed that since the declaration of the reserve three years ago, no assault by the local communities at the area was reported.
He added that the night patrols which roamed the area in the past have ceased as the locals have volunteered to protect the mountain against any attack on its stones, vegetations and animals, reiterating that the citizens have strictly committed themselves to preserving and developing the reserve after they used to destroying it in the past.
These protection measures have achieved good results as the vegetal cover in the area improved and the tree increased which led to a rise in the rain falling rates and appearance of new water springs, pointing out that the number of the wild animals has also increased and started to feed on the grass which constitutes their natural food
Major Al-Numan Taour, Director of the Local Communities’ Administration at the General Administration of the Wild Life Police, on his part, reiterated that they cooperate with the local population residing around the natural reserves, saying that cooperation is their method to preserve the natural resources.
He said they do not usually resort to reinforcing the law, but they educate the local communities so that they preserve their resources by themselves.
“We believe in the importance of the role of the citizens and local communities in preserving the environment and its various resources”, he said.
He added that the behavior of the citizens who live in the villages around the reserve represents a model for cooperation with the nature, noting that the native and coming tribes realized that they were the main beneficiaries of the reserve resources and that over consuming those resources would impact it.
He noted that the future plans of his administration tend to focus on the concept of cooperation and to let the protection of the reserves for the local communities as they constitute a key partner in any protection policy.
The citizens of Jabel Al-Dayer area are working to further develop it and make it a tourist spot as well as a commercial and an economic center via many projects that they plan to implement.
In this connection, Musa Salih, a citizen from Al-Ain village near the mountain, said “we have seriously worked during the past years and achieved good results with regard to improving the mountain environment.”
“Our present concern is how to preserve this success and ensure its continuation; how to utilize the mountain resources in developing the local population”, he said, urging the government to support the economic and social development at the area.