Friends reunited

In the 1980’s, I worked as an expedition cook for a UK company called ‘Guerba Expeditions’.

JB Jones, Nikki Jones and Nick Cooper with their expedition truck near Miti, 1987

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.

John Kahekwa and Nikki Jones with Pygmy trackers, 1987

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.

The beautiful Maheshe, 1987

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 …..

Nikki Jones, John Kahekwa and JB Jones, 2016

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.

Nikki Jones, New Trustee of POPOF UK

Following a meeting on Saturday, 8th April 2017, the Pole Pole Foundation UK is pleased to announce the appointment of a new Trustee; Nikki Jones.

POPOF UK members:
From left, Richard Milburn – Representative member, Julia Milburn – Treasurer,
Nikki Jones – Trustee,Tony Milburn – Chairman.

Nikki used to work as a cook on trans-African overland expeditions in the 1980’s and has very fond memories of time spent in the Democratic Republic of Congo – known at that time as Zaire.

She knows the area and the founder of the Pole Pole Foundation, John Kahekwa, personally, and brings a female perspective to the role.
“I am honoured and delighted to have been given the opportunity to support the work of the Pole Pole Foundation in such a direct way.” said Nikki.
“The Congo is such a beautiful place and the people are so friendly. The Kahuzi-Biega National Park is an ecological gem. The Grauer’s gorillas are awesome in the true sense of the word.
I am very excited to be helping John and his team, and look forward to contributing to the amazing work that they are doing.”

John Kahekwa gives a talk at King’s College, London

During his recent visit to London, John Kahekwa took the time to give a talk about his conservation work at the Department of War Studies, King’s College, London.

The audience was treated to a fascinating explanation of John’s work with his Pole Pole Foundation, and the difficulties he faces because of conflict and illegal mining in his area. Ian Redmond of the Born Free Foundation spoke about his concerns for the future of the Eastern Lowland Grauer’s gorillas, too.

John Kahekwa’s holistic approach to conservation is leading the way in his field. Education is a corner stone of the work that the Pole Pole Foundation does in the D R Congo.
It was good to hear what John had to say in London.

Jasper Humphreys of King’s College and Ian Redmond of the Born Free Foundation listen to John Kahekwa’s talk, December 2016

John Kahekwa and Nikki Jones at his talk at the Department of War Studies, King’s College, London.

Photos: Tusk Conservation Awards 2016 Ceremony

The Tusk Awards Ceremony took place on 30th November 2016 at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK.

[Image by courtesy of Tusk Awards/ Getty Images]

John was presented with the Prince William Award for Conservation, which was in recognition of his life’s work and his holistic approach to conservation with community.They showed a short film which explained John’s work and why he had been specially chosen by Prince William to receive this prestigious award.
Link to the film on You Tube:
“Winner of the Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa 2016, John Kahekwa”

[Image by courtesy of Tusk Awards/ Getty Images

THE PRINCE WILLIAM AWARD FOR CONSERVATION IN AFRICA
This is a lifetime achievement award, recognising an outstanding dedication and exceptional contribution to conservation in Africa.This prestigious award is sponsored by Investec Asset Management.A magnificent trophy specially designed by Tiffany is presented to the winner. John was presented with his award by Prince William.

[Image by courtesy of Tusk Awards/ Getty Images]

Prince William congratulating all the prize winners.

[Image by courtesy of Tusk Awards/ Getty Images]