Successful visit to West Africa for Osprey Leadership Foundation
A group from the Osprey Leadership Foundation, led by the charity’s founder Tim Mackrill and trustee Paul Stammers have just returned from a successful visit to West Africa.
The group spent time in both The Gambia and Senegal and even managed to find one of the Rutland Ospreys at its winter home.
The charity works with young people in different countries on the Osprey’s flyway to inspire and enable the next generation of conservation leaders.
While in The Gambia the group visited Tanji school, one of five schools where the foundation has set-up an Osprey club for students; an initiative run in partnership with the Rutland Osprey Project.
“It was great to meet the latest members of the Osprey club at Tanji school,” said Tim. “Although we only formally established the charity last year the scheme has now been running for several years and it’s encouraging to see that it is starting to have an impact.
“The conservation message is spreading through local communities and some of the students have developed a genuine interest in nature and conservation.
“The problem in The Gambia is that there are very few opportunities for young people to pursue that interest, and most cannot afford to go to university.”
He said the Osprey Leadership Foundation was planning to launch two new schemes – Future Conservation Leaders and Stars of the Future.
“(They) are are designed to help young people who we feel have real potential and who we know can make a genuine difference if they are given a chance,” said Tim.
The Foundation has already committed to sponsoring Gambian student Dembo Jatta through a degree in Conservation Biology as part of the Stars of the Future scheme. Dembo spent a morning with the group at Kartong Bird Observatory where he ran a bird ringing demonstration for the group and then joined them for a couple of hour’s birdwatching.
“His knowledge and enthusiasm shines through and everyone in the group had a fantastic morning,” said Tim.
“Dembo was one of the first members of the Osprey club at nearby Kartong school but there is no way he could afford to go to university without our help.
“We were delighted that another former Osprey club member from Kartong school, Naffie Sarr also helped out with the bird ringing and we think she is another young person with a bright future. She hopes to become a professional bird guide.”
In addition to their time in The Gambia the group also visited Senegal and saw Rutland Osprey 32(11) which fledged from the Manton Bay nest in 2011.
Tim, who managed the Rutland Osprey Project for more than 10 years said: “Ospreys tend to be faithful to the same wintering site each year and having seen 32 at the delta three years ago we knew where to look.
“It was incredibly exciting when we did see him – there’s something very special about seeing a Rutland Osprey 3,000 miles away from home, and a reminder of what links Rutland with this part of the world.”
Now that the group has returned home, the team is launching a Friends of OLF scheme.
“The scheme is designed to raise much needed funds for the foundation, while building up a community of like minded people who genuinely want to make a difference.
“In return for a monthly donation of £10 we’ll provide an annual Osprey Cruise on the Rutland Belle at Rutland Water, other get-togethers during the year and regular updates on the work our friends are supporting.
To sign-up as a Friend of OLF please visit FRIENDS OF OLF.
More by this authorAndrew Stone