What made you want to join the primate handshake?
I’ve always been fascinated by animals, all sorts of animals, but I was first drawn to apes when I visited a zoo in Barcelona and met one of their resident Orangutans. While it was great to see such an awesome animal up close, I would much rather have seen him out and about in his natural habitat.
Since then I had been on the lookout for an opportunity to get involved with some of the amazing organisations that help out animals who are in danger of having their habitats destroyed, or who have been injured or orphaned as a result of poaching. MJ, a friend and work colleague, is well known for his penchant for all things primate and having spoken to him about the subject, a few months later I’m sitting in a forest in Cameroon, surrounded by apes (not so dissimilar to my job at home it must be said!) helping to document the work that Ape Action Africa are doing here to care for young and injured primates.
I’ve just recently developed an interest in photography and what better way to practice than to snap some awesome animals in an amazing location for a great cause. The Primate Handshake involves all three of these aspects so it was a no brainer.
What is your background and how does it relate to the trip?
Working as an engineer for a race team, there’s not a great deal of crossover between my day to day job and my passion for animals. Perhaps working in a technical environment, so different from the great outdoors, has spurred me on to spend more of my spare time surrounded by nature, who knows?
What are your first impressions of Mefou?
I was met at the airport upon arrival by one of the very friendly rangers of Mefou National Park. Following a short drive on ‘normal’ roads, we headed off piste down a narrowing, rutted, muddy track towards the park. The first thing that struck me when I arrived, in the dead of night, was the soundtrack playing outside the windows of my accommodation. A cacophony of insect and birdsongs played long into the night. Dawn was broken to the sound of one (persistent) rooster and the baby chimp living next door. Gorillas live literally 10ft behind our accommodation and appear to be as curious about us as we are of them. Writing this half way through Day 1 of the trip I’ve already seen so much. I can’t to see what’s around the next corner.
What do you hope to gain from the trip?
Having typically spent my holidays to date in more ‘traditional’ locations, as corny as it may sound, I was keen to spend more of my free time on worthwhile causes rather than simply relaxing by a pool.