In the 1980’s, I worked as an expedition cook for a UK company called ‘Guerba Expeditions’.
My husband, JB, and I used to run long-haul overland trips for Guerba.
Depending on our route, these trips were four of five months long, taking in Africa from top to bottom.
Whenever we were in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (which was known as Zaire at the time), we used to go and spend some time with John Kahekwa and the Eastern Lowland Grauer’s gorillas.
Visiting the gorillas in the Kahuzi-Biega National Park was a real highlight for us, and something which we will never forget.
The big silverback which we used to visit was called ‘Maheshe’.
He was a magnificent animal. And he was quite famous. He even appeared on the bank notes of the time.
I lost touch with John, but have often thought of him over the years, and wondered how he and the gorillas were getting on with all the conflict that there has been in the area.
Imagine my delight when I learned that he was coming to London to be presented with the Prince William Award for Conservation 2016! Finally, an opportunity to meet up and re-connect with an old friend. It was lovely to see him again, and to share some old memories. The years just melted away …..
It is great to be in touch with John again, and I am really looking forward to being able to help with the work of his Pole Pole Foundation in the future.