Oliver Upton, 5 Years Later


Posted By on Oct 29, 2013

Ollie has arrived in the Cameroon jungle ready to start another handshake having been a volunteer at the very first handshake in South Africa 5 years ago. He has always said that if a short trip came up involving gorillas he would like to be involved. Ollie works in television as a researcher but has become more and more interested in the filming side of things and has completed a wildlife filming course this year. He would like to pursue this interest particularly looking in to filming gorillas with a firm conservation message behind it . The interests in the natural world started whilst at university where Ollie wanted to explore the connection between humans and nature using film. He first heard about the handshake at a talk on a wet, foggy day in Aberyswth and was instantly intrigued by the charities vision and now on his second trip this is unlikely to be his last. Ollie describes the sanctuary as ‘the proper jungle,’ full of life and not just some zoo or a park. The 5km drive in off the beaten track immediately set the scene as the truck precariously negotiated the craters in the road. Well travelled and fresh from a trip to Peru Ollie is admittedly quite tired but being ‘in the middle of nowhere’ and surrounded by the hum of the forest is an instant refresher. Ollie recognises the luxuries we have at home compared to here with no internet, showering with a cup of water and sipping a good cup of English breakfast tea but these are all things you forget in the splendour of Mefou National...

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Arriving in a Forest Late One Night


Posted By on Oct 28, 2013

In 2012 Cat took part in The Primate Handshake in Uganda. Kat had heard about Ape Action before and as a fan of Gorrilas, when she heard the handshake were doing a project with Ape Action, she jumped on board, keen to add to her growing experience in conservation. Kat works for PTES (The Peoples Trust for Endangered Species), as an administrative officer. As quite a bit of this work is behind a desk Kat wanted to do rid herself of that piece of wooden furniture for a bit and get a bit more hands on conservation work, feeling its important to do something worthwhile whilst traveling. Arriving by night in a pick up truck from the airport, the sounds and smells of the jungle rushed back to Kat, reminding her of her time in Uganda. She quickly found the sanctuary to be bigger than she expected, the project to be bigger than she expected, and there to be lots to help out with. All great in Kats mind, as was the experience of being out in the middle of no where. Kat is looking forward to filming the great apes, and spending time with them, watching their activities. She feels she could do this all day, but one thing fills her with dread, the idea of awaking at night to find herself face to face with a scorpion, but she’s thinking this hopefully shouldn’t happen. Other conservation volunteering trips often require months to be taken off work where as this is shorter and you get to work with digital media, something that’s increasingly important now-a-days. It’s not something you’d think of initially but communication is vital in getting a message out to people; believes Kat who also states that another key reason for coming back on a handshake was to spend more time with Laurence, Lucy and Emily… a bit weird Whilst in the depths of the jungle Kat says the luxuries she will miss most are a warm bed and being clean all the time. Before her first handshake trip Kat hadn’t done much traveling, she wanted to change this and improve on her experience of digital media, which she uses at work. She hopes to add to all this on this new adventure. And I’m sure the Gorillas are looking to seeing her...

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A Week in Cameroon


Posted By on Oct 20, 2013

By Micheal Jordan Life in Cameroon is ever changing, there is a vibrant feeling in the air that fills you with energy.  As I write this I have Diego the cat sat on my lap purring away, while rain is starting to come down and distant rolls of thunder draw ever closer. There’ll be a big storm tonight. It’s hard to try and give you a feeling of what it is like here in Mefou. We sleep in a set of dorm rooms sandwiched between rainforest with a baby chimp enclosure on one side and an adolescent gorilla enclosure behind us that holds Nkan Daniel’s group. A tree has just fallen on the baby chimp enclosure, hopefully there won’t be any little escapees today! Within a few days the forest started to feel like home., already it seems like we have been here for months. After our orientation with the primate handshake crew, we had a tour with one of the local guides who showed us around the Mefou sanctuary.  Walking about the place you start to realise just how big the sanctuary is and what a challenge it must be to look after all of the sanctuaries various inhabitants. Daily life is a mixture of filming and editing for different videos the sanctuary would like us to make for them.  On Tuesday, I spent the day perched on a water tower to get some shots of the gorillas for a video update on Shufai and how Gorillas are disappearing in the wild here in Cameroon. It’s enthralling to see the passion that many of the staff here show for the work they are doing. You can see it in their eyes when they are being interviewed. I’ve also had the chance to film one of the most engaging things that I’ve probably ever seen.  A Mandrill was brought in to have some teeth removed as they were causing him considerable pain and he was starting to lose weight. Due to the limited facilities available here, the vet had to use a power drill and a scraper rather than a dentistry drill. It was certainly tough to watch, but already he seems to be up and about, feeling much better for having them removed. Anyway, It’s almost time for tea here. Chips and sauce tonight, I suppose some things don’t...

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Vegetable Kebabs Recipe


Posted By on Sep 27, 2013

We made these vegetarian kebabs as they were quick and easy to make after a busy day of photographing and filming at a local community project and the Blind Tree Nursery. We served the kebabs with a jacket potato and beans. Ingredients (made 12 kebabs) Vegetable Kebabs: 2 onions 4 courgettes 3 green peppers 3 small aubergines 1 pineapple Honey Mustard Glaze: 200g honey 1 tbsp mustard powder water for desired consistency   Method Chop all the kebabs ingredients into large chunks and divide between 12 kebab skewers. BBQ or grill the kebabs until the vegetables are soft and crispy on the outside. Whilst the kebabs are cooking mix the honey glaze ingredients and drizzle half over the kebabs whilst cooking, saving the over half for serving. Serve the kebabs with the remaining honey glaze.   By...

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Mick the Tricky Truckie


Posted By on Sep 3, 2013

Mick is a truck driver from Perth in Western Australia, currently working for Oasis Overland. For the last 5 months before coming to Africa, Mick was driving road trains hauling cryogenic liquids throughout the outback of Australia. He was a long haul Driver for 25 years, with 2 years spent as a overland driver in South America. He enjoys being an overland driver because of the different cultures he gets to experience and all the different people he meets from different parts of the world that join on the truck as passengers. Working as a overland driver gives Mick the chance to fulfil his passion for travelling as he gets to see different countries and cultures whilst being paid to do it. He says it’s a win win situation for both himself and the company he works...

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Amber Aldridge-White


Posted By on Sep 3, 2013

  Amber is from Pembrokshire in Wales where she grew up, she is 19 years old and studies at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David in Lampeter. She is currently studying for an Anthropology degree which she throughly enjoys as she has a keen interest in people and cultures.  At college she studied Media studies, Drama and R.eligious studies she is very interested in media and drama and is a very talented actress; she aspires to do this as a further career after her degree. Though Amber is from countryside she is obsessed with the city life and frequently visits London to attend gigs and shows, she loves music and is probably one of Jessie J’s biggest fans. In her spare time she likes to play the guitar and sing along to her favourite artists songs. Amber is a very active and spontaneous person hence why she decided to come on The Handshake expedition, the fact that she studies Anthropology sways in her favour as this trip will be based around small communities where she will have time to understand the people and grasp the concept of the varied cultures in East Africa, Kenya. Her first impression of Kenya; she was pretty startled at the way of life here and how different it is to that at home. However, as the time has gone on she has settled in and really likes it and finds the people very friendly and welcoming. Her biggest challenge is using apple mac laptops and moving away from home to go to...

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