I was on my way to the zoo to cover the latest rescued ape as part of my work with the Last Great Ape Organisation – LAGA. The LAGA team reported a successful arrest operation in the East Region of Cameroon that led to the rescued of a baby gorilla – with former ECOFAC and the forces of law and order. In spite of the uprising from the villagers and risk of violence, this baby gorilla was finally rescued and rushed to the Mvogbesti zoo in Yaounde (about 400km from the area of rescue).
Arriving at the zoo, I was so excited because it was my very first shooting leading to even more excitement. My excitement grew sour when this baby gorilla finally arrived at the zoo. Though she was so hairy and cute, she was frail and pale and immobile at the end edge of her cage because of the profound wound she had on the waist. When the workers at the zoo opened her cage to get her out, she sobbed and withdrew right at the back edge of her cage so as to isolate herself from the workers who finally succeeded in getting her out.
During her treatment, she was held by the arms by two men (one man on her left arm and another on her painful right arm). She looked for all ways to ease her pains; she battled with her left hand in an attempt to free herself from pains and time and again pinned her limbs on the slap and raised her body up to let go some pains. She also carried her limbs up to hold the hands of her healer to like say “please doctor! My God! Release me from such pains it’s unbearable! Oh! What did she not do! But in all these, her right hand was very steady. I did nothing but cry and imagine that it was my baby at the look of her struggle, her screaming, gnashing and sobbing. In a nutshell, her screaming to almost losing her voice when she was being attended to by veterinarian made me have goose pimples. In fact, at one moment I froze and was too touched by what I saw and could no longer shoot pictures. The veterinarian at Ape Action Africa told me they named the baby gorilla – Chikaboo. And I have done what I can to help her by getting her photos and cry to the public. I worked on articles that got published in Cameroon newspapers and broadcast over national radio and television. But the real satisfaction I got came from my work of maintaining the LAGA Website and YouTube channel. Posting about Chikaboo’s stories, her pictures, and videos where people without borders can watch and view because it is the technology that allows us to help this baby gorilla and the great apes in reaching many people to be conscious and stand up for their heritage and see all that is human in our closest kin.
For over 30 years our prestigious biennial Festival has been convening and celebrating the world's best natural world storytellers. Through collaboration with our ever-growing community of filmmakers, photographers, broadcasters, technologists and conservation organizations we aim to transform the craft of natural world storytelling across platforms and across audiences, ensuring as many people as possible experience the natural world, feel part of it and want to help protect it.