This is the office of the Niger River Basin Authority, where Alfousseini works. They are very interested in manatee conservation and research.
We also went to the zoo, where they used to have 2 captive manatees which unfortunately died awhile back (causes of death are unclear, but my sense is that unfortunately they didn't know how to properly care for them). This is the sign near the pool where they kept them. We were told that people flocked to the zoo to see them, because they are so fascinated by such a mysterious creature and opportunities to see one are so rare.
We also saw the National Museum of Art, the presidential palace and gardens, the conservatory of music and many busy markets! It's just a few days before the Muslim holiday Tabaski, so the markets are crazy with shoppers buying food, new clothes and other supplies. We went to the market to check out the "fetish" stands, which are the vendors selling animal parts, usually for traditional medicine or religious purposes. Although I find looking at piles of dead animals (and particularly wildlife) depressing, I've found I learn alot from these stands in the sense that you can tell how prevalent certain species are in a country by their presence or absence in the market, and you can also tell how stringently (or not) the laws are enforced by the willingness of vendors to talk about or show you that they have certain species. Here in Bamako manatee bones and parts were not seen, and most vendors either didn't know what a manatee was or didn't have any. Sometimes they are reluctant to talk to a white person, so Tomas went back without me and was able to see a couple manatee bones. But overall this market had much less wildlife than others I've seen.
Then we met with the head of the wildlife protection section. He plans to attend the training workshop in Djenne so we mostly talked logistics.
After that we stopped by the Ministry of Environment to say hello to several officials. Phew! Now it's time to pack because we leave for Mopti early tomorrow morning.