Just like everywhere in the world, The Gambia has been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Schools were closed for a prolonged period last year, and that meant our Osprey Clubs were unable to take place for several months.

Once schools returned OLF’s Gambia coordinator, Junkung Jadama was able to organise visits for four schools to Gunjur Quarry, one of the best places in the country for wintering Ospreys, and also a wide range of other wetland and woodland species. The groups were led by JJ with Dembo Jatta and Naffie Sarr who were both founding members of the Osprey club at Kartong school. Dembo and Naffie are now wonderful role models for the younger students because they are making good progress towards a career in nature conservation. Both have been developing their skills at Kartong Bird Observatory (KBO) and Dembo, who is part of the Evolving Conservation Leaders Group, secured a scholarship to the African Leadership University in Rwanda to study for a degree in Global Challenges, specialising in Conservation Biology. After completing the first term remotely, Dembo travelled to Rwanda soon after the fieldtrips, to begin studying in person. Naffie, meanwhile, has continued to gain experience at KBO and is currently undertaking an Internship as a Coastal Observer for the National Environment Agency in The Gambia. She is also participating in our latest Becoming a Conservation Leader programme.

During the fieldtrips over 60 students from the four schools were treated to great views of Ospreys, along with some other spectacular African species such as Blue-bellied Roller and White-faced Whistling Ducks. Such experiences are usually not possible at severely under-resourced rural schools and our hope is that some of the students will be inspired to take more of an interest in the natural world as a result and, perhaps, follow in the footsteps of Dembo and Naffie. It was particularly nice that Dembo and Naffie were able to lead a trip for St Martin’s school in Kartong – the school they both attended.

As part of his degree, Dembo will be in the UK next May-July undertaking an internship jointly organised by OLF and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation. He’ll be working with Tim on the Osprey and White-tailed Eagle projects and gaining experience at other sites across the country. We’ll keep you updated with plans. 

Finally, the Covid-19 pandemic has been devastating for the tourism industry in The Gambia, and, with bird guiding as his main income, JJ has struggled with his own children’s school fees as a result. If you think you might be able to help in this regard, then please get in touch with Tim (tim@ospreylf.org). 

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