It is another sunny day here in the UK but I’m missing the Cameroon sun and I’m missing walking around the forest checking everything, making plans, chatting with the staff, chatting with our primates, having a brew with Alex and Tamara and generally being able to move. Instead, I am again sat on my chair with my laptop.

The last few weeks have gone so quickly yet today seems to be taking forever. Normally I never wish my days away but today needs to end and give me tomorrow!

My “Upon Return to Cameroon” list gets longer each day as I’m constantly thinking of the things I need to do as soon as I get back. And each time we have a team meeting another 2 or 3 items are added to my list. I like to read through my return list every few days, as it makes me feel closer to getting back and I’m really looking forward to getting started on that list and, even better, getting to cross things off it. I’m a big list advocate, ask any of my friends - if it’s not on the list then it’s not going to happen!!    

Today I’m going to tackle some of our accounting, a task I like to assign a whole day to. It’s the one and only thing on my list for today. As I go through our receipts, I suddenly have a reality check that I won’t see any receipts for visitor tickets or merchandise from our gift shop as we’ve closed the park indefinitely. That income is such a huge help, every last penny going straight back into looking after our animals. It is an income we may not see for a very long time, an income we need to try and find elsewhere, a lost income that suddenly feels very heavy.

Visitors touring the park in 2019. Image © Ape Action Africa

Today we haven’t had our team meeting by phone call, but we all keep in touch constantly throughout the day by messages. It’s been a good few days in the forest for everyone and even though it’s a stressful situation for the team, they are all doing an amazing job keeping “normal" moving.

It's late afternoon now and time for a coffee break. Whenever I check the time, I always think what would be happening now in the forest, what would I be doing? Now, most of the team would be returning to work after their lunch breaks and filling up their wheelbarrows with fruit and veg for the last feed of the day. I like to watch this and many times I’ll stand outside the forest office and watch the guys banter with each other whilst taking their share of animal food. Then everyone heads off to their section as there are only a few hours left before last feed and getting everyone inside satellite cages for the night. 3 pm along with 5 am are two of my favourite hours in the day. 

I continue sorting through receipts.

Tomorrow is our team meeting. I look forward to hearing Tamara and Appolinaire giving their updates.  I also really like that I can hear my dogs howling and the occasional chimp hoot. It makes me smile every time.

Today is coming to an end. Tamara has updated us that the day went well and everything is fine in the forest. And that is all that’s important. Whether I’m in the forest or in the UK having a bit of a moan about the day dragging on, the forest is good and for me, that’s all that matters.

Tomorrow is another day ... the world will be a day closer to controlling the pandemic and I'll be a day closer to getting home to the forest.

Stay safe and save lives.


Banner image © Ape Action Africa / Tamara de Juana

If you missed Rachel's previous posts, you can catch up here

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