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African exchange: connecting researchers to build capacity and solidarity for bird conservation

4 June, 2024

Saint Guillaume K. Odoukpe, Farid Amadou Bahleman, Yendoubouam Kourdjouak, Abiola Sylvestre Chaffra, and Lin-Ernni Mikégraba Kaboumba pose for a photo at Taï National Park during their 2023 visit to Côte d’Ivoire, hosted by Saint Guillaume. Photo courtesy of Farid Amadou Bahleman.


Have you ever participated in a student or research exchange in another country? If the answer is yes, chances are you learned some things you will never forget, and perhaps you made friends you still have to this day. Such opportunities to travel and learn tend to be rare in West and Central Africa, but those fortunate enough to participate in educational exchange benefit, and when such opportunities are in the area of ornithology, birds can benefit as well! Last year, IBCP was delighted to sponsor African exchange trips to Togo and Côte d’Ivoire.

Djekadjim Djekillamber at the start of his journey from Chad to Benin. Photo courtesy of Djekadjim Djekillamber.


In January 2023, University of Ghana graduate student Samuel Boakye Yiadom, traveling with IBCP Research Fellow Brandon Franta, wrote a wonderful essay about some of his experiences on his first trip to Togo. In June 2023, Dr. Saint Guillaume K. Odoukpe of the Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny invited and hosted two ornithologists each from Togo and Bénin on a two week trip in his home country of Côte d’Ivoire, and wrote a fascinating summary of their experiences, including a bird list.

The White-faced Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna viduata) is a heavily persecuted bird species that nests in southern Bénin wetlands, and is a focal species of surveys by Dr. Abiola Chaffra in Bénin. Photo by Nico Arcilla.


This year, IBCP is pleased to sponsor an exchange visit from Chad to Bénin and Togo, during which Djekadjim Djekillamber is receiving guidance and training in bird research and conservation outreach under the direction of Dr. Abiola Sylvestre Chaffra of Benin. A graduate of the University of Maroua in Cameroon, Djekadjim previously conducted research on human perceptions and impacts on vultures around Manda National Park, Chad, and their conservation implications.

Allen’s Gallinule (Porphyrio alleni) is one of the most heavily persecuted birds nesting in southern Bénin wetlands; here a breeding adult has been trapped at its nest by a local hunter. Photo by Abiola Chaffra.


Working with Abiola conducting waterbird surveys will allow Djekadjim to build his field identification and research skills, and both researchers will also conduct market surveys for birds in southern Bénin. They will then join IBCP Togo team Yendoubouam Kourdjouak and Lin-Ernni Mikégraba Kaboumba to conduct vulture surveys in Togo. Finally, they will visit Farid Amadou Bahleman who conducts vulture research and conservation in northern Bénin with the NGO SOS Savane, in the vicinity of Pendjari National Park. We wish them all the best in learning more about African bird populations, threats, and challenges in the field, and that the skills and experiences they gain will help make a brighter future for birds in West Africa.

Abiola and Djekadjim work on bird identification in the field in Bénin. Photo courtesy of Djekadjim Djekillamber.

 

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