As the eight-largest country in Africa, the landlocked francophone republic of Mali joins GBIF as an associated participant and becomes the 16th African country in the GBIF network. National nodes activities will be headed by GBIF Mali set up at National Directorate of Waters and Forests (DNEF) at the Ministry of the Environment, Sanitation and Sustainable Development in the Malian capital of Bamako.
Located in the heart of western Africa, Mali is home to the northernmost population of bush elephants (Loxodonta africana) in the continent, a species listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. The herd of just 350 individuals in Mali faces serious threats due to poaching, however, thanks to the efforts of projects like the Mali Elephant Project and the Malian Anti-Poaching Brigade, not a single elephant has been killed in the last six months.
Listed are also 15 endangered species, six of these critically, including four vulture species. Considered regionally extinct in most of its endemic range, the Dama gazelle (Nanger dama) is now only found in five locations, including eastern Mali, with populations of less than 250 mature individuals. Acridocarpus monodii is an endangered Malpighiaceae shrub endemic to the Cliffs of Bandiagara, a UNESCO World Heritage Site near the town of Mopti in the Inner Niger Delta region of Mali.
Currently, GBIF.org users can access about 70,000 species occurrences in Mali published by 26 countries. Nearly 30 per cent of these occurrences are derived from a project tracking Western marsh harriers published by the Belgian Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO). Other publishers of occurrences in Mali include the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT) of Colombia responsible for a global wild relatives database, the Museum of Natural History in Paris, and German Senckenberg who publishes a photographic guide to African plants.
The decision to become a GBIF participant was linked to Mali’s involvement in an ongoing regional project under the EU-funded Biodiversity Information for Development (BID) programme, forming a collaboration to build capacity and mobilize biodiversity data in eight African francophone countries.