Young conservationist’s Congo trip

Olly (left) with some of the team he worked with in Madagascar

Olly (left) with some of the team he worked with in Madagascar - Credit: supplied

A NORTH Somerset conservationist will spend the next 16 months working to protect elephants, gorillas and chimpanzees in Africa.

Olly Griffin with a lemur in Madagascar

Olly Griffin with a lemur in Madagascar - Credit: supplied

Olly Griffin, aged 24, will fly out on Friday before his adventure begins with a three-hour hike to his temporary home – a tent in the tropical forest at Gabon in the Congo Basin.

The former pupil of Fairfield School in Backwell has long had an interest in conservation and, before this year’s trip, had spent a year studying lemurs in Madagascar, where the animals are seen by locals as a bad omen.

Olly, who has studied conservation science at Imperial College London, said: “I grew up on a farm and have always enjoyed nature.

“As I learned more and travelled more I came to appreciate what a dire state much of it is in, and realised without some change in our approach to nature, we would lose a huge number of species, habitats, and ecosystems in the next few centuries, and in many cases even sooner.”

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In The Congo Basin, commercial logging, agricultural expansion and civil unrest have all contributed to deforestation in an area which is home to 10,000 different animal species.

During his trip, Olly, who lives in Kingston Seymour, will be based in a national park surrounded by a natural forest clearing, known as Earth’s Last Eden.

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He will work in 90 per cent humidity and high temperatures, while also surrounded by malaria-carrying mosquitoes, to help protect elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, mandrill and other animals from future decline.

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