Naturalism and ornithology

If the desert environment  means  rare fauna and flora, many professional and amateur naturalists however leave our camp really excited by their discoveries. Observations will necessarily be more significant during poultry migration phases.

The best period for a naturalist trip to the Atlantic Sahara is from September-October to April, excluding the warmer months of the year.

We prefer:

- September-October to attend the post-nuptial migration,

- November to January for observing wintering species,

- The late winter and early spring for the first  migratory and nesting observation of local species

- March-April for premarital migration


Mammals in the region

The dromedary

Camels family is divided into two kinds: the kind Lama and the kind Camelus. The latter is itself divided into two species : the Camelus dromedarius (dromedary) and the Camelus bactrianus (camel).

Camels family is among families of prehistoric animals that have survived until today.

The domestication of the camel is very old and dates back to the fourth millennium BC, especially in central and southern Arabia. The expansion of Islam played an important role in the introduction in North Africa. Camels allowed to exploit the nomadic desert, to get rid of the agriculture and to end food shortage by providing among other milk and meat. The Quran repeatedly calls the camel "of divine gift to humanity, should not be treated badly."

Since the 70s, the number of camels has declined sharply, mainly due to the conflict in the south and to the fact that populations became sedentary. Following the development program launched by the government in the late 80s and importation of animals from Mauritania and Senegal, the number is rising. The province of Laayoune is at the forefront of national production and far ahead of other provinces across the country.

Herd size usually varies from 30 to 100 heads, but some farmers may have up to 2,000 camels. Animals are often conducted with other species, goats and sheep.

The average weight of a camel is about 400-450 kgs.

The camel is one of the only pets to be able to live in the desert, taking advantage of vegetation generally rejected by other ruminants and tolerating long periods without access to water.

The anatomical adaptation of camels to these environments is explained by its large size, allowing it to graze at heights of up to four meters high, slim legs and broad hooves facilitating travel on long distances in the sand, its thick lips and keratinized oral mucosa for its good adaptation to thorny vegetation, its bump that would have a role in protection against sunlight and its hairs that act as an insulator due to low thermal conductivity.

A pasturing camel may travel about 30 miles per day. Plant species consumed are numerous.

In terms of watering, the dromedary, with physiological regulatory mechanisms (urine concentration by anatomical and hormonal adaptation of renal function, limiting losses by fecal water reabsorption in the intestine, changes in body temperature by temperature limiting sweating, behavior relative to the sun, low respiratory rate, plasticity of red blood cells that can withstand sudden changes in osmotic pressure) can lose up to a third of its body weight and drink more than 100 liters in a few minutes. This resistance to dehydration is a critical element for the survival of animals. In the dry season with a diet low in water, the rate varies between watering once a week to once every 10 days, while in the wet season the water content of the plant is sufficient to cover the needs of animals.

Mating lasts 10 to 20 minutes. A virile male can serve 30-80 females per breeding season, which takes place in the winter and mate with females 3 or even 5 in one day.

The gestation period is one year.

The living conditions of farmers have evolved in time through the generalization of the car and fixing populations in the city (almost all have a place to live in the city). Farmers now can respond more quickly to events occurring in their herds. They can afford to engage in other activities by giving the daily management of the flock to a shepherd or a farm foreman.

Nomadism  is still the standard for a majority of farmers. Only 20% of farmers are near a water point and never move. Nevertheless, all the others have more tendency  to come back and spend the dry season in the same place each year, usually in the vicinity of the city in which they live. But nomadism is real during the wet season.

Camel productions:
- Milk production is low in Morocco and varies from 1.5 to 3 liters per day. The slave is 2 to 4 times daily.
- The composition of camel milk is similar to that of the cow, a little less rich in fat but rich in Vitamin C. Local populations are milking camels according to their needs. Some nomads (in Hoggar for example) can ingest 3 to 5 liters of good milk at once simply by taking their breath a few seconds. You can keep the dromedary milk for quite a long time without coagulation.
- The manufacture of cheese is difficult and uneconomical. The local processing knowledge is still insufficient.
- The yogurt is almost impossible due to the inability of camel milk coagulation.
- Butter is of poor quality and is used by women as a cosmetic for their hair.
- With 1% fat and 77% water, camel meat is much more appreciated than beef.
- A camel provides an average of 1 kg of hair per year. The coat of camel, finer, is appreciated. Used in the manufacture of tents, this production is increasingly abandoned now in favor of synthetic materials or imported cotton.
- The leather is of poor quality and is used for upholstery and garment straps.
- The man still uses the camel and its ability to move for transportation. However, it is increasingly abandoned in favor of the automobile. The camel  has a capacity of carrying a load up to 800 kgs.
- The selling price of a camel is between 8000 and 12000 dhs. With a SMIC at about 2000 dhs, the dromedary is a real investment and a large herd an enormous capital. Owners of large herds are real businessmen!
- The majority of population in Laayoune, the Sahraoui,  is very fond of camel meat, by tradition. Market demand is strong and is not always satisfied by the quantity in the market, especially if the previous years have been tough for breeding and the number of births has decreased.
- The marketing of camel milk is often still a taboo in the Saharan provinces and the tradition of milk offered to the traveler is ingrained in the collective consciousness. The milk market, mainly the city and its inhabitants, is positioned in a niche different from cow's milk, based on tradition and enjoys a certain prestige. The offer is very low, the price remains high.

The camel breeding has become a priority for the country, in a context where interior and exterior markets are far from being satisfied. From the ecological point of view, despite the land degradation it causes, it is an asset in the fight against desertification.

The golden jackal

Golden jackals have been heard and seen in the evening and at dawn along the river near the camp.

The fennec

The Hare

The Ichneumon mongoose

A customer naturalist found footprints and the perceived characteristic cry of a mongoose, near the river by the Camp.

The gerbil Shaw

The gerbil Shaw has a baby silhouette and has two large protruding eyes and glassy as the Mongolian gerbil. It weighs about 150 grams and its size is about 14 centimeters.

Amphibians and reptiles
- Toad
- Sea Turtle
- Tortoise
- Taranto (family Geckos)
- Chameleon
- Agame
- Skink
- Lizard
- Scorpion Buthus
- Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus)
- Garter Moïla
- Schokari Sand Snake (Psammophis schokari)  
- Awl-headed Snake (diadema Lythorhynchus)
- Long Snake Marked  (Spalerosophis diadema)
- Clifford snake
- North Africa/Egyptian Cobra (Naja haje)
- Sand Viper (Vipera cerastes)  
- Horned sand viper
- Puff adder (Bitis arietans)
Sedentary birds

- Little Owl Athena (Athene noctua)
- Thekla Lark (Galerida theklae)
- Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
- Black Wheatear (Oenanthe leucura)
- Desert Wheatear (Oenanthe deserti)
- Greater Hoopoe-Lark (Alaemon alaudipes)
- Rumped Wheatear (Oenanthe moesta)
- Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis)
- Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus)
- Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus) -

Migratory birds

- Bluethroat
- Red throat
- Redstart Moussier
- Black Redstart
- Stonechat
- Stonechat
- Reed Warbler
- Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)
- Blackcap
- Orphean Warbler
- Subalpine Warbler (Sylvia cantillans)
- Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
- Willow Warbler
- Pied Flycatcher
- Black Kite
- Swift
- European Bee-eater
- Barn Swallow
- Swallow window
- Swallow Chimney
- Red-rumped Swallow
- Wagtail
- Pipit
- Red-throated Pipit
- Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
- Little Ringed Plover
- Sandpiper White
- Cream-colored Courser (Cursorius cursor)
- Barbary partridge (Alectoris barbara)
- Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia)
- Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
- Shelduck
- Bustard Africa ("Houboura")
- Stork


In the desert:

- Chenopodiaceae (low bushes, majority)
- Salsola
- Zygophyllum

Near the river Bedouin Camp:

- Nitraria retusa (large bushes)
- Salicorne
- Bands
- Reeds


- In Arabic: "laârad" or "laâsal"

- The Salsola was used to generate soda by combustion, useful for making soap or glass.


- In Arabic: "laâgaya"

- Flowers in March

- Plant mostly underground, so rich in water and minerals

- Useful for setting the sand

- Was used against diabetes

These are annual plants, low, fleshy, growing on soils rich in salt (sodium chloride). They consist of cylindrical branches that seem articulated. The leaves are reduced to ducts opposite in pairs.

One of them, Salicornia europaea L. is present in the temperate zones of all continents. About 20 cm high, is widespread in France on all coasts and salt marshes in Lorraine. Its tender shoots are edible. Pickled in vinegar they are eaten as appetizers, or as an omelette or in salads. It can also be prepared as green beans.

It is still used today to produce soda plant, which was formerly used for the manufacture of soap and still between the composition of Aleppo soap.


With a little patience, you can find in the depression near the Camp:

- Sand roses

- Salt flowers

- Flint