Atlantic Coastal Desert

The Atlantic coastal desert ecoregion, classified in the desert and xeric shrublands Biome, occupies a small area near the Mauritian Atlantic Coast. The region’s landscape is characterized by cliffs, about 20 to 50 meters tall and sandy plateaus in the inland area. The ecoregion’s climate is hot and arid, with little and sporadic rainfall. Annual precipitation is recorded at 40 mm although years may pass without any rain. Mists are blown offshore by wind currents and after condensation facilitate the growth of lichens and shrubs. This ecoregion provides a habitat for numerous migrating shorebirds and the endangered Mediterranean monk seal. Although rich in endemic plants, the ecoregion has only one endemic fauna, the Algerian snake. Terrestrial fauna which abounds in the region is the hyena, sand fox, ratel, golden jackal and Dorcas gazelle. This ecoregion has continually been degraded due to overgrazing and extended periods of drought. The Réserve Intégrale de Cap Blanc and the Banc d’Arguin National Park were established to preserve the region’s integrity.