This project aims to enhance the calcareous quarry of Aït Baha (Souss-Massa region), through its rehabilitation to natural pseudo-steppe. The ecological value of the biodiversity adapted to this type of environment, which evolves slowly, needs to be measured with method and objectivity, for better conservation. Our approach is to inventory animal species that thrive in this site, while areas with ecological value will be identified, prioritized and mapped, in order to develop them and improve their attractiveness for rustic fauna and increase their connectivity with neighboring habitats. Cliffs will serve as resting and nesting sites for certain species of birds, while rocks and scree will be converted into habitats for small mammals and reptiles, notably lizards and snakes. New developments can be proposed for improving the quarry to encourage its recolonization by fauna and flora. The ultimate goal is to make the quarry a conservation site, attractive for fauna adapted to rocky environments (scree, protosols and rocky cliffs) and more generally a refuge for animal biodiversity.
Back to the Atlas long-legged buzzard !
We published a short note untitled " Nesting of the Atlas Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus cirtensis) in an active limestone quarry (Aït Baha, central-western Morocco)" on both “Go-South bull.” (https://go-south.grepom.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/gsb_19_37-39.pdf/ )and shared on the website of GREPOM-BirdLife Maroc (https://www.grepom.org/ )Read more
Meeting with the international jury member
On 22 July, our research team, the HeidelbergCement local representative, and the international jury member visited the Aït Baha quarry. During the meeting, our research team presented the progress report of the project and discussed the main results. We also got some useful recommendations from the international jury member. After the meeting, we visited our experimental rehabilitation plot in the quarry and discussed how such activities could be improved. Despite the high midday temperature,...Read more
Quarry for eductation
During the research period, we recorded a rich fauna diversity in the Aït Baha quarry, including arthropods, reptiles, birds and mammals. We created three posters of 25 animal species and 18 floristic species, which will be exhibited at the quarry and also used as a pedagogic support for the zoology course at the Faculty of Science, Ibn Zoh University, Agadir.Read more
Our experimental plot of rehabilitation on site
Today we publish some photos of our experimental activities to create a demonstrative rehabilitation spot on the Ait Baha Quarry site. The focus is to create an adequate habitat to accelerate the re-vegetation process and to attract fauna species. 1. Terraces covered with topsoil and planted with Mediterranean species, adapted to water stress,to increase biomass and to improve natural vegetation establishment; 2. Gabion walls as potential microhabitats for wildlife, as they serve as shelters...Read more
The end of the Long-winged buzzard story
We are going to follow the story of the Long-winged buzzard pair, who nests at the Aït Baha quarry. This year it was successful, and two chicks hatched and fledged. On 17 June 2022, the two young raptors are still around the nest, waiting for a careless lizard or a small rodent that wanders away from its burrow.Read more
The Atlas Long-legged Buzzard is not the single bird of prey in the quarry !
On April 13 and 27, 2022, new surprise, a Common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) pair nests on the western cliffs in the quarry, not so far from the Long-legged Buzzard's active nest. Despite many hours of research and observation, we were not able to discover the nest.Read more
When it comes to scorpions in the quarry, ...
After lifting multiple rocks in the quarry, we were so delighted to find three scorpion species.Read more
What happens in the nest ?
After two weeks, the North African buzzard parents are still incubating. A parent remained deep in the nest within the cliff and there was no sign of any chicks yet. The second parent perched at various vantage points within a few metres of the nest. With a little luck, the chicks will appear at the end of April. The suspense still remains!Read more
The hidden gecko !
Morocco Lizard-fingered Gecko (Saurodactylus brosseti) can be found under stones in the quarry. This small gecko is very adapted to extremely arid areas, even in the hottest months and when the ambient temperature exceeded 40º. This ADULT lizard is abundant in various stony or rocky areas in the quarry, where it can be found under small stones. Under these it finds the necessary humidity to survive and avoids most of its predators.Read more
They took my breath away!
A ledge about 5 m above the ground in a quarry may sound like an inhospitable place to build a nest, but if you're a raptor, it's perfect. A pair of North African buzzards (Buteo buteo cirtensis) have taken up residence on a cliff in the Aït Baha quarry. How many eggs were laid and will the parents be able to raise their chicks? The suspense!Read more
Amazingly agile squirrels confidently navigating the quarry rocky heapes
The North African ground squirrel, Atlantoxerus getulus, is a Maghreb endemic species. Adults mainly spend their days alternating between foraging for food, burrowing into stone heaps or relaxing on the rocks, soaking up the sun to maintain a fairly constant temperature. Barbary ground squirrels serve as a seed distributer. They are also a food source for local feral cats and raptors.Read more
Setting camera traps
We setup camera traps to target some mammals or to discover some other unexpected visitors that might use the quarry.Read more
Biodiversity in the Quarry: Agama impalearis
After surveying the quarry for just a few hours, we have found our first North African rock agama basking near rock piles. It is a fascinating species of great scientific importance and is endemic to the Maghreb where it can be found in Morocco, Algeria and northern Mauritania.Read more
Biodiversity in the Quarry: Testudo graeca
We were so happy to encounter our first Mediterranean spur-thighed tortoise which is the only species of tortoise in Morocco. In terms of reptile conservation concern, this species is classified as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. This individual belongs to an endemic subspecies found only in Morocco.Read more
Our trained team members working together to inventory the animal biodiversity in the quarry. We started a systematic research and prospecting of steep sunny slopes and stone heaps which provide habitats for lizards, terrestrial tortoises, snakes, spiders and scorpions.Read more