The park consists of three rocky, volcanic islands lying about 4 km west of the Senegal coast, off the southern end of the Cap Vert peninsula on which Dakar lies, and the areas of sea between the islands. The largest, the ‘Iles aux serpents’, is about 15 ha. The islands are covered in steppe-grassland. Trees include baobabs Adansonia, jujubas Ziziphus, prickly-pear Opuntia and tamarinds Tamarindus.
See Box for key species. The 30 or more pairs of Phaethon aethereus are the only breeding birds of this species known from a mainland African country. The islands harbour a varied avifauna including a breeding colony (400 nests) of Phalacrocorax carbo (introduced in the 1980s from the Parc National des Oiseaux du Djoudj, part of site SN001), and breeding Corvus albus, Milvus migrans, Galerida cristata and Euplectes orix. Sterna anaethetus breeds on the islands and there are records of Sula leucogaster, Morus bassanus, Larus cachinnans, L. cirrocephalus and L. fuscus. Alaemon alaudipes, restricted to the Sahara–Sindian (A02) biome, has been recorded from the site.
Non-bird biodiversity: The sea-turtle Caretta caretta (EN) has nested on a small beach and the dolphins Steno bredanensis (DD) and Stenella coeruleoalba (LR/cd) have been recorded within the park. The tortoise Geochelone sulcata (VU) has been introduced to the islands.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Parc National des Iles de la Madeleine. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 14/08/2020.