Working together for turtle doves in the Gambia

The Turtle Dove Action Plan has brought together stakeholders from across the species’ European and African range and it is inspiring to hear how people right along the flyway are working to help the turtle dove. Here, Lamin Jobaate from the European Turtle Dove Working Group for the Gambia tells us about the work that he and his colleagues are doing for turtle dove conservation.

Three pictures showing the author Lamin Jobaate, the European Turtle Dove working group at the Gambia Bird Festival and one of the created t-shirts
Lamin Jobaate (author), European Turtle Dove Working Group at the Gambia Bird Festival, one of the t-shirts created by the Working Group. Credits: Fagimba Camara and Solomom Jallow.

The West African Bird Study Association, the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management and other relevant stakeholders have formed a European Turtle Dove Working Group for the Gambia.

We have embarked on a series of activities to raise the level of awareness among Gambians on the status of the turtle dove. The activities include printing t-shirts which portrayed pictures of the turtle dove, teaching school club members about the turtle dove population status and threats and displaying pictures, t-shirts and presenting lecture talks during the Gambia International Bird Festival. We organise field trips to the Central River Region to identify potential sites for the future conservation of the turtle dove and we collaborate with the annual waterfowl census to monitor turtle doves and look at threats such as hunting.

Representatives of the Working Group attended one of the Action Plan workshops that was held in Spain in December 2016. We contributed to the Action Plan development process and presented a talk about our work on turtle doves, as well as identifying future conservation activities and plans for the turtle dove on its wintering grounds.

The Action Plan will now provide us with a framework of topics that need future research, help coordinate research across the flyway and protect sites on the wintering grounds.

The Working Group slogan is “SAVE ME FROM EXTINCTION”. We have lots of plans ahead for the future conservation of the turtle dove: mobilizing resources at our own level to protect more turtle dove habitats in the Gambia, creating a network among hotspot countries to share information and embarking on a sustainable programme to encourage specialist birdwatchers to visit the Gambia where we will provide guiding services and money generated from the guiding will be ploughed back into the conservation of the turtle dove.

Additional information: The West African Bird Study Association was selected as the focal point by the European Turtle Dove Working Group for the Gambia and the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management serves as the technical arm of the working group. The other members of the Working Group include Habitat Africa, University of The Gambia, Gambia Farmers platform and Birds of the Gambia and Senegal.