Chimp chasing…

Posted on November 19, 2010

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Africa has always been a continent that’s intrigued me – the stunning landscapes; untamed wildlife; beautiful dialects that vary across bordering countries and a nation that embraces its tribal traditions.

My father was born in Tanzania, or Tanganyika as he still refers to it, (the name was changed in 1964). I was taken there as child on holiday, but have no real memory of it. So when I booked my flight to Uganda this summer I was filled with both excitement as well as trepidation.

You see this was no ordinary trip. After more than 14 inoculations and several shopping trips to ditch my high heels for jungle boots, I was going off to the wilds of the Ugandan forest, to chase chimpanzees.

I’m retraining to become a Primatologist – the study of primates. I’m aiming to combine the knowledge I gain with the skills I already have as a broadcast journalist, to work more in conservation journalism.ย I’ve hauled myself back to university, and although I feel like the class au pair next to some of these whippersnappers; it’s definitely been the right decision.

The trip to Africa was a litmus test to see if I was cut out for fieldwork……the text book stuff is relatively easy compared to how challenged you feel when you’re alone in the jungle. And trust me, there’s nowt that can prepare you for it, especially if you’re a city girl like me.

I had the opportunity to film a story about how conservationists in the Budongo Forest Reserve are working with neighbouring villages to safeguard the chimpanzee populations. The scheme is a pilot and has been running a year, so far it’s seen some positive results.

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