Gorillas In My Soul
6 Mar 2018, RGSQ Brisbane
Abstract: Annette is the author of the best selling African memoir - ‘Wild spirit: how a year in the African rainforest changed an Australian woman’s life’ published by Random House Australia in 2009. She has worked as an anthropologist, university lecturer, and higher education manager, and now divides her time between many speaking engagements, some volunteering, and managing the 2-hectare Land for Wildlife property outside Brisbane where she lives with her husband, Win and their Ridgeback cross, Bentleigh. At the age of 29, Annette Henderson found herself unexpectedly living and working in an isolated mineral exploration camp high in the forested mountains of Gabon, West Africa, close to the Congo border. As an executive secretary with no experience of remote living, she found every day a challenge to all she’d ever known. But the great primeval rainforest surrounding the camp, home to a dazzling array of wildlife, soon began to work on her spirit. Little by little, she learned about the elephants, gorillas, leopards and monkeys, the aardvarks, pangolins, antelopes and hornbills. When an orphaned and injured baby gorilla was brought into camp one night, the greatest change of her life began to unfold.
On Conservation of the West African Gorillas
Personal Synopsis of the March lecture - ‘Gorillas in my Soul”
By Leo Scanlan, RGSQ member
I went along with no pre-conceptions about the content of RGSQ’s monthly lecture on Tuesday, March 6 at the Magda Community Arts Hall in Bardon. I had no abiding ambition to rescue primates but was completely blown away with Annette’s story and her journey in Gabon, West Africa.
This story is a great conservation story in itself which can be applied to many of the other great conservation stories to come out of Africa. To date, I haven’t read Annette’s book, ‘Wild Spirit’, but it’s now on my list of to-do’s in the not too distant future and it’s not hard to see how Annette became so deeply involved in this great African conservation journey.
I must say I haven’t as yet had the ‘pleasure’ of coming face to face with the gorillas of Africa. However, if I keep going back to Africa, some time I’m bound to run across the gorillas. Annette’s lecture this evening has brought back many happy memories of the wonderful people and places that I have visited in Africa and the interlocking story of looking in on a huge conservation effort along the way.
In the prelude to one of my past treks for the Society to Africa, I mentioned that we may be one of the last generations, or perhaps the last, to view the vast array of animal species that inhabit Africa. The pressure on these most precious parts of our planet is really part of a conservation effort we just cannot afford to lose. Thanks Annette for sharing your story this evening and giving me further inspiration to explore what else is tucked away in different parts of Africa.
My own experience in seeing Sweetwater Chimp Conservancy in Kenya and from the stories coming from the pages of National Geographic related to Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall, Dame Dephne Sheldrick and of course at home here in Australia we can draw inspiration from people like Deborah Tabart who is so passionate about the preservation of our own spectacular Koalas.
Next year, 2019, with the help of the Annette Hendersons of this world and drawing on my own experience, I’m hopeful that I can inspire some of you to join with RGSQ Traveller and accompany me on a new journey of discovery and see firsthand some of the great national parks and conservation stories in Africa first hand