Dembo Jatta

Dembo grew up in a small rural village in the southern part of The Gambia and from a young age was fascinated by the behaviour of animals. Gradually, he developed a strong love for birds and the natural world. His interest was sparked by the rich wildlife surrounding his village, which is situated along the east Atlantic flyway. This area attracts palearctic migratory birds in winter, intra-African migrants in summer, and a plethora of resident birds throughout the year.

His growing passion for the natural world led him to take up a volunteer position at the Kartong Bird Observatory (KBO), a local research institute studying migratory and local birds. Dembo's close involvement with KBO provided him with hands-on experience in ornithology and ecological research, including bird surveys, behavioural observation and migration data collection. He took on several responsibilities, including overseeing bird-ringing activities, helping visiting ornithologists with the identification of Afrotropical species, and contributing to collaborative projects with European research centres. This experience not only honed his skills but also ignited his deepfelt commitment to bird conservation.

He pursued a BA (Honours) in Wildlife Conservation at the African Leadership University (ALU) in Kigali, Rwanda. The program focuses on addressing global challenges and was aligned perfectly with his mission to contribute to addressing Africa's conservation challenges through research, storytelling and policy-driven initiatives. During his studies, Dembo did internships with organisations such as the Osprey Leadership Foundation, Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, and Conserve Global. These internships focused on hands-on projects related to wildlife monitoring, reintroduction efforts and habitat restoration. His honours capstone project focused on the emergence and impact of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) on wild bird populations in The Gambia and Senegal. The study was conducted in collaboration with various partners in West Africa and was supported by the School of Wildlife Conservation at ALU and the Wadden Sea Secretariat.

Beyond his academic and professional pursuits, Dembo has a passion for wildlife photography and storytelling. He has contributed to international wildlife documentary films such as The Last Song of The Nightingale and The Stolen Fish, the latter of which addresses the environmental and economic factors of fishmeal factories threatening The Gambia's coastal communities.