Rachel Hogan’s passion for gorillas began as a young child, but her dream to work with them became a reality in 2001 when she travelled to Cameroon to volunteer for us for three months. Just as she was getting ready to return home to Birmingham, a tiny, two-week-old gorilla arrived at the sanctuary. 
No one had ever successfully hand-reared such a small gorilla, but Rachel was determined to help him. She abandoned her plans to go home, and for the next two years, Nkan Daniel never left her side. That little gorilla is now a magnificent silverback, a true testament to Rachel’s dedication to these amazing apes. 
Nkan Daniel was the first of many orphaned infants that Rachel would commit her life to saving. In a blog last year, Rachel shared some of her memories of her early years at Ape Action Africa. "I start remembering all the infant gorillas Appolinaire and I have cared for and all the care needed to get them to the stage where they are ready to meet their new families. I chuckle to myself as I remember when Nkan and Shai were little. The 3 of us slept on a mattress on the floor. I normally woke up on the floor as once those two spread themselves out there wasn’t any space for me! Once they were asleep, it was then time for Appolinaire to try and get in and for me to get out so I could have my shower before they woke for the first of 3 bottles of milk they would have during the night. This wasn’t an easy task. They were both always so convincing that they were deeply asleep until I would try to move and Appolinaire would take my position at the side of the mattress. As soon as their nostrils started to move, flaring in and out as they realised my smell wasn’t there and had been replaced by Appolinaire's, it was time to move quickly. Appolinaire would be frantically shouting but in a whispered tone, which isn’t easy! "Go now, quick, move." A commando roll off the mattress and, still on my hands and knees, I would head to the door and to the bathroom for my 5-minute shower, quick cup of tea and then my commando roll back into the room with a good 10 minutes to spare before the first, usually Nkan, would wake for his bottle."
Baby Nkan Daniel drinking one of many bottles of milk!
Rachel grew from a shy volunteer, who was totally focused on Nkan Daniel, into our confident director of today, responsible for over 280 animals and 50 staff, and in 2019 her dedication earned her an OBE in recognition of her services to conservation.

Rachel receives her OBE at Buckingham Palace

Under Rachel’s leadership, Ape Action Africa continues to offer hope and safe refuge to hundreds of orphans of the illegal bushmeat and pet trades, and as we approach our 25th anniversary, we look forward to many more years of working for Cameroon’s endangered primates.

As part of our silver jubilee celebrations and for this year only, you can help us care for our rescued orphans by purchasing our silverback special adoption pack. For £40 you'll receive Nkan Daniel's photo and biography, a certificate of adoption, and his life-size hand and footprints! Plus you'll get the reward of knowing that you've made a difference to this magnificent silverback.