My life with Gorillas – 16 years in the RainforestRachel Hogan anticipated African adventures when she packed her bags and left her Birmingham, UK home in 2001 at the age of 25. She wouldn’t have believed, however, that 15 years later she would call a small patch of jungle in Cameroon home, and more than 350 primates and over 50 staff her family.
No sooner had Rachel begun a three-month volunteership at the fledgling primate sanctuary Ape Action Africa (formerly the Cameroon Wildlife Aid Fund), than a days-old orphaned gorilla was placed in her care. She named him Nkan Daniel. For a time she was the only volunteer on site, sharing a tent in the forest with her charge. Water – even for drinking – came from the river, 30 minutes away. When the founder/director abruptly abandoned the project, Rachel stayed.
She had made a promise to the infant gorilla that she would not leave until she had provided a proper forest home and gorilla family for him and the other ape orphans who’d made their way to the sanctuary. And Rachel Hogan doesn’t break her vows. After returning to the UK for 2 weeks to settle her affairs, she made her permanent move to that Cameroonian sanctuary.
The shy, quiet girl from Birmingham is now director of Ape Action Africa, one of the largest and most established ape sanctuaries on the continent, with 23 gorillas, 110 chimpanzees and a dozen species of monkeys. Safeguarding them and building the infrastructure to ensure that has been her primary mission.
Rachel’s extraordinary combination of diplomacy, resilience, creative solutions and long-term commitment have earned the trust and respect of government, law enforcement, local communities and the staff. Her ability to remain calm in the face of inevitable and unpredictable events is indispensable.
Her promise to Nkan Daniel fulfilled and a well-run operation in place, the greater responsibility to the primates now is to keep their cousins free and in the wild, where they belong. Rachel is equipped to steer Ape Action Africa towards this long vision, one which requires unwavering resolve and a multi-faceted strategy. She promised to protect the primates in her care, and Rachel never breaks her vow.
Date: Monday, May 22
Time: 6:00 pm Reception, 7:00 pm Lecture
Location: Club Headquarters, 46 E 70th Street, New York, NY, 10021
Member Ticket Price: $25
Guest Ticket Price: $10
Student Ticket Price: $5 with a valid academic ID