Project Leader

Gilles Florent Soro

Gilles Florent Soro

Who I am

From the forest to the sea, my life has been a journey of discovery and conservation. I was born and raised in rural Côte d’Ivoire, where I developed a love for nature and wildlife. I spent my childhood exploring the forests, rivers and fields, fishing with my friends and caring for my pets. I followed my love of nature by studying biological sciences at university, specialising in animal biology as an undergraduate. There I gained an appreciation of the incredible diversity and complexity of life on earth, as well as an understanding of the threats posed by human activity.

Driven to make a positive difference and help protect the natural environment, I was thrilled to be accepted as a Master’s student in Cape Verde to study climate change and marine science. My time there was memorable as it was my first opportunity to work at sea and observe the fascinating array of life that inhabits the water. Writing my Master’s thesis on the spatial distribution of blue sharks in relation to ocean temperature gave me invaluable insights into the ecology and behaviour of these fascinating animals. Back in Côte d’Ivoire, I used the knowledge I had gained to work with sharks and rays in the Grand-Béréby Marine Protected Area through research, education and conservation initiatives.

Where I work

My workplace is a paradise for nature lovers and conservationists. I work in Grand-Béréby, a coastal town in the south-west of Côte d’Ivoire, where the country’s first marine protected area was established. A sanctuary for sea turtles, sharks, rays and other marine life, its beaches are one of the most important nesting sites for leatherback turtles in West Africa, as well as feeding, mating and nesting habitats for green, hawksbill and olive ridley turtles. The marine protected area is also home to several elasmobranchs, including sharks and rays. As well as being a biodiversity hotspot, Grand-Béréby is a popular tourist destination in the country. It has stunning beaches, rich wildlife and many cultural attractions. It was awarded the title of ‘Most Beautiful Ecotourist Village 2022’ in Côte d’Ivoire and joined the ‘Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club’ in 2023.

What I do

I work for CEM (Conservation des Espèces Marines) NGO, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the conservation of marine species in Grand-Béréby and an important actor in the conservation of biodiversity in the locality. My work comprises three main aspects: research, outreach and ecotourism. I undertake research on marine species such as sharks and rays, collecting data that can be used for conservation and policy-making. I also communicate the findings of my research to local communities and urge them to safeguard their environment by arranging meetings and engaging in discussions with them. Finally, I focus on promoting ecotourism as a means of raising awareness among local communities about the importance of their biodiversity and drawing visitors to the area.

My project

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