After working in the fields, we would take a rowing boat to go fishing in the delta. But I was no good at fishing. I’d always return empty-handed! I used to watch birds instead.
At 19, Jean joined the army and later, a security company in Dakar, before being admitted to the National Parks guard programme. His first assignment was with the anti-poaching team in the Niokolo Koba National Park.
In 2007, he began working in the Saloum Delta National Park where he is responsible for engaging communities living next to the park and improving their understanding of conservation.
Jean spends much of his time accompanying the Alcyon project field mission – a seabird conservation project financed by MAVA and led by BirdLife which studies and protects terns and seagulls nesting on the Saloum islands. It takes exceptional navigation skills – he’s so accomplished in fact that the mission leader calls him ‘the cross-country man’.
“Now I am one of the rare people that knows how to navigate among the delta’s shoals. It doesn’t matter whether it’s day or night, I can find my way.”
The experience feeds his passion for ornithology, and his diverse skills have not gone unnoticed. From woodwork to placing transmitters on birds, Jean can do anything and everything that’s required, putting all his energy into making the project a success.
Halting disturbance of shorebirds
Jean’s work in the Saloum delta is typical of the work we support on the front lines of conservation and a critical part of our partners’ wider effort to protect breeding and wintering shorebirds in priority coastal wetlands in West Africa.