Coastal erosion threatens Senegal’s rock climbing clique

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Rock climbing have falling behind wrestling, football and surfing as well-loved Senegalese pastimes, but it has bound together a small community of locals and expats who say that their sport is under threat.

Coastal erosion caused by a massive construction boom in the capital Dakar where luxury hotels and condominiums are being built close to a once-untouched shoreline, eating away at the land and eroding the well worn climbing routes.

“It’s kind of sad, due to the fact that it’s really a place where you can get rid of all the stress from Dakar, all the noises and everything,” aid Abasse Wane, who has been climbing the cliffs above Dakar’s Mamelles beach for several years.

Erosion costs Senegal’s government more than $537 million a year, primarily due to the loss of high-value urban land, according to a 2019 World Bank study.

Geologist Pape Goumbo Lo, who heads Senegal’s national scientific research institute, worries that if something isn’t done soon, the cliffs and the lighthouse may crumble into the sea.

“We need to protect Mamelles urgently. It’s historical, it’s touristic, it’s ecological and it’s strategic.”

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