It is with great pleasure I am alerting you to a forthcoming talk by one of the great ‘unsung heroes’ of African conservation as part of the new Marjan-Marsh Award.
Compared to some ‘big names’ in conservation John Kahekwa is relatively unknown; in fact he knows more about the Eastern Lowland Gorilla than almost anyone, living close to the animals and having grown up near them in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
John works in the Kahuzi-Biega National Park, being the nephew of the late Adrien Deschryver, the Belgian game warden who instigated the park’s foundation in the 1970s. John has been tracking the endangered gorillas since the early 1980’s as well as being at the epicentre of the brutal regional fighting that took place in and around Bukavu, where John operates.
John, aged 49, will be making a rare appearance from the DRC to receive the Marjan-Marsh Award: this £1000 award is provided by the Marsh Christian Trust and honours significant contributions in the field of conservation taking place in areas of conflict.
At the ceremony on October 29th John will give an illustrated talk ‘Gorillas and Guerrillas: one man’s vision in ‘the heart of darkness’: in1992 John set up his own charity, the PolePole Foundation, devoted to combining the protection of gorillas with promoting a better life for the local community (PolePole means ‘slowly-slowly’ in Swahili). He started by persuading local poachers to retrain as woodcarvers and a Japanese donor to fund the planting of 10,000 young trees to provide the wood.
Since then John has achieved considerable success and to date the PolePole Foundation has planted over 1.5 million trees around the park, run several schools, and developed income-generating projects for former poachers and widows of gorilla rangers.
John is a man who has devoted his life to further conservation in a cauldron of conflict: truly a worthy story and cause.
Talk date: October 29th, 5-7pm.
Location: King’s College, London
Admission: free, all welcome
Details about location of room and King’s College will follow in several weeks; in the meantime please contact me with any queries.