There are no birding tours at present to or in Niger
The Government agency in Niger most concerned with birds is the Department de la Faune, de la Pêche et de la Pisciculture (DFPP), BP 721, Niamey. They will certainly be interested if you drop in to let them know that you are doing some serious birding in Niger. The director may still be M. Seyni Seydou, waterbird count coordinator Abdou Malam Issa. Telephone (+227) 73 33 29, 73 40 69, fax 73 27 84, 73 55 91, e-mail [email protected] (or [email protected] or [email protected]: indicate in the Subject window who the message is for). Communication is not easy, also because the phone is often only for receiving calls, not for making them.
The annual waterbird counts, part of the African Waterbird Census, take place all over the country in January and February each year. Check with Abdou Malam Issa for Niger and with the Wetlands International office in Dakar for other countries if you are interested in contributing: [email protected]
We know of no specific birding guides in Niger. Official guides in Parc National du W and in the Aïr-Ténéré may have some knowledge of birds. In Parc National du W in the 1990s I always asked for Abdou le Burkinabé, who was very interested and good at finding birds.
For identifying plants there is the Flore du Sénégal, and the GTZ Trees of the Sahel book. The latter has found an equivalent in 'Trees, shrubs and lianas of West African dry zones' by ARBONNIER, M. CIRAD/CTA/Margraf/MNHN, 2004. 577 pp. ISBN 2-8761-4579-0. French and English versions available. There also exists, though it is no longer for sale,"A vegetative key to the trees and shrubs of the Sahel", by Chris Geerling from The Netherlands.
We are not aware of any birding trip reports for Niger
For an overview of West and North Africa I suggest Michelin map no. 953. Most topographical maps are made by or with the assistance of the Institut Géographique National in Paris (IGN). You can order some maps there. For others you may need permission from the country involved, or you have to buy them in the country itself. IGN used to be at 136bis, Rue de Grenelle, Paris (VIIe), but they have moved and you should be able to find them via the website. In Niger the salespoint is at the Cadastre in Niamey, quite close to the Rondpoint de la Justice. Available series are:
1:1,000,000, Cartes internationales du monde. About 10 Euro each?
1:200,000 of Niger, and I assume of other countries.
Most cover a one degree square, sometimes a bit more or a bit less near the borders of the country. Most maps are based on aerial photographs taken in the 70s, so the roads are not always exactly where indicated on the maps. Note that the maps for Niger of areas near the border often show nothing at all of the neighbouring country: the rest of the square is simply left blank. These maps are extremely useful to have with you when you go off the main roads, and for determining coordinates for submission of your observations to the Niger Bird Data Base (unless you travel with a GPS of course).
There are also a few maps of 1:100,000 and 1:50,000, but only of more populated areas.
Independent birders can fly into Niamey from Paris with Air France, or into Niamey and Agadez from Paris, Marseile or Toulouse with Point-Afrique. Point-Afrique also organises tours to Niger, especially to the drier parts including Aïr-Ténéré, but also to Parc National du W. There are most likely also other companies that offer flights and / or tours to Niger.
Travel by car on sealed roads from Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria and eastern Mali (Gao) is also possible. I have no information on crossing the Sahara through Algeria down to Arlit and Agadez.
See the IBA section for logistical information for each site mentioned there.
The local currency is the CFA Franc at approximately 550 to the Euro.
A few words of caution. When visiting Niger you should of course take the necessary preventative measures against various tropical diseases. These include watching under what cover you sleep and being careful about what you eat and drink. Getting malaria or any of various intestinal parasites is no joke. Though you are not likely to see many, don't fool around with snakes or other potentially dangerous animals. Also don't travel outside the towns or villages at night if you can avoid it, whether by public transport or by private car. Livestock straying onto the road at night still regularly means the end of a vehicle and its occupants. In some areas near the borders an armed hold-up is also possible after dark. For up-to-date security information in Niamey and country areas, always consult the hotel staff, police or army. Admittedly, this is often unnecessary: Niger is as safe as any African country. But it is such a simple precaution to take in a country you are still getting to know.
Some key points warrant repetition here for most African countries: (1) be aware of the risk of malaria and seek current advice, sleep in a sealed tent or under a net and take prophylaxis as recommended; (2) always ensure you have sufficient water and some method of purification (even if this comprises a pot and a campfire for boiling); (3) do not underestimate the danger of being in the sun for too long, ensure you use sun-block, drink plenty of water and wear a hat; (4) be aware of the risk of AIDS; (5) ensure that you take a reasonably-equipped first-aid pack with you including supplies of hypodermic and suturing needles.
See the following 2 websites or your own country's embassy website for the latest safety and travel information: US Travel and UK FCO. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs for example may have a similar website.