Making an Impact in the Congo – Pole Pole Founder's Feedback

19th December 2018


As part of our Gorillas in Africa’s Midst tour to Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, a group of seven Wild Frontiers clients, and their tour leader Jez visited the Pole Pole Foundation in November. There they met with its Founder and gorilla conservationist, John Kahekwa.

Here at Wild Frontiers we are fully committed to the POPOF, and we take pride in donating money per client on our tours to aid the fabulous work they do. This goes to afforestation, environment education, tree planting, anti-poaching patrols, training for former poachers and the construction of fish ponds to provide the local communities with a source of food to deter hunting for bushmeat.

Excitingly, working together with the POPOF, we have also established a community education initiative in which the people from the villages surrounding the Kahuzi-Biega National Park get the opportunity to trek to visit the gorillas they are learning to protect. Despite living alongside them, many of the people here have not seen the gorillas before.

After the tremendous success of the first tour, John got in contact to give us some truly heartwarming feedback. Here’s what he had to say:

We are so grateful for all the wonderful feedback we have received from the WF tour clients of 2018. We are all almost moved to tears by the positivity sent from our friends overseas about the time they spent in a portion of our forgotten country, the Democratic Republic of Congo. You have no idea how good it feels and how proud we are.

Your sentiments offer great encouragement and remind us again and again how much we love our work helping the Grauer gorillas, a critically endangered species, even when it becomes challenging. Their habitat is being encroached upon for fuel, charcoals, farming, and mineral digging, caused by poverty and local communities who are uneducated on these matters. Their saying is often, ‘Empty stomachs have no ears’.

The reality is that the Kahuzi-Biega National Park has been a world heritage site since 1980, and conservation is a huge priority. The day the local people sit down and discuss the project together, begin to view gorillas equally, plant trees together and assist each other in terms of education for the new generations, will truly be the beginning of inclusive conservation and a united community. We hope this approach will give the KBNP a chance to last long into the future. Wild Frontiers is exactly what we need to bring in big-hearted people to help us here. We encourage other visitors to join us in the field through the WF Foundation.

Please send a thousand hugs from the women and pupils of the POPOF to each of the seven Wild Frontiers visitors we had; Fatima, Hazel, Howard, both Marks, Mike, Joy, and Jez. Please thank them for their contributions to us. I guarantee their donations will go straight to reinforcing the different activities we have relating to conservation.

With special thanks to Richard Milburn, the Pole Pole Foundations UK representative, who brought this cause to Jonny Bealby’s attention.


Hayley Cleeter

Hayley would have to thank the multi-culturalism of London for first sparking her interest in travel. She remembers dressing up in saris from India, e…

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