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Wildlife trust travels to Africa to help develop new nature reserves

Otter Trust trustee Ben Potterton colleague Binta Janneh (blue and white dress) with the tree guardians in the Senegal village of Abene. Picture: Jeremy Miege.

Otter Trust trustee Ben Potterton colleague Binta Janneh (blue and white dress) with the tree guardians in the Senegal village of Abene. Picture: Jeremy Miege.

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A team from the Otter Trust have returned from west Africa where they visited wetland projects and government officials to help prioritise conservation efforts.

A blue-breasted kingfisher pictured during the visit to The Gambia. Picture: Jeremy Miege.A blue-breasted kingfisher pictured during the visit to The Gambia. Picture: Jeremy Miege.

The Otter Trust is supporting wetland conservation initiatives from donations received at its headquarters at Earsham Wetland Centre near Bungay.

After a productive dinner at the British Embassy in The Gambia, the team visited the University of Cumbria’s project in the Pirang Forest before travelling along the River Gambia meeting with villagers to discuss the issues facing isolated communities and identifying wildlife conflicts.

Later in the week the team visited bird and reptile projects in southern Gambia before travelling into Senegal.

A red dragonfly pictured during the visit to The Gambia. Picture: Jeremy Miege.A red dragonfly pictured during the visit to The Gambia. Picture: Jeremy Miege.

The main aim of the trip was to discuss the trust’s support for the Kartong Bird Observatory and the development of research facilities and an accommodation block for visiting students and researchers.

Kartong is Africa’s oldest bird study site and has a close association to Norfolk as its warden is a former Fakenham resident and the vice chairman is from Harleston. The Otter Trust is working with The Gambian Tourism and Wildlife Ministries to create two new nature reserves to protect water birds and mammals including otters, manatee and the slender-snouted crocodile.

And this Saturday, June 23, Colin Cross from Kartong Bird Observatory will be visiting Earsham Wetland Centre to give an illustrated presentation. Otter Trust trustee Ben Potterton will also be available to answer questions and discuss volunteering possibilities and conservation initiatives on the River Waveney.

A giant kingfisher pictured during the visit to The Gambia. Picture: Jeremy Miege.A giant kingfisher pictured during the visit to The Gambia. Picture: Jeremy Miege.

The lecture, from 7pm is free to attend although donations towards the project are welcome.

Established in 1971, the Otter Trust initially supported otter projects, but has now broadened its remit, with three themes. These are to help endangered otter species, support wetland projects and species in Norfolk and Suffolk and to support international wetland projects.

In recent years the Otter Trust has purchased land in south Norfolk to establish a new nature reserve, renovated its former headquarters at Earsham and donated £200,000 to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust to help with land purchases at Cley and Hickling.

A bearded barbet pictured during the visit to The Gambia. Picture: Jeremy Miege.A bearded barbet pictured during the visit to The Gambia. Picture: Jeremy Miege.

For more information visit earshamwetlandcentre.com

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