Cragghoppers is a travel clothing brand and one of our fantastic corporate partners. They sent a representative, Jennifer Carew, to join us on the expedition to Madagascar. Find out how she got on…
Living in the rainforest with the Chester Zoo conservation team for 10 days was absolutely incredible. I was there to represent Craghoppers, who are specifically supporting the lemur project in partnership with NGO, Madagasikara Voakajy. It was great to get hands on with conservation work and see for ourselves how our support is making a difference.
Walking in the rainforest in search of the lemurs was no easy task – we left at 5.30am every morning to climb the steep, thick rainforest set on the side of a mountain. The humid and muggy air made it even more challenging, but we were all kitted out in technical Craghoppers kit which meant our shirts dried in seconds and our trousers were stretchy and comfortable for the vertical climb.
The local guides were amazing and knew the rainforest like the back of their hands. This meant we could get close to the lemurs, enabling us to record great data for the research project.
I walked with Siobhan, who’s one of the lemur keepers at the zoo, which was fantastic. She informed me about lemur behaviours as we hiked, as well as the dangers they face and how we can help them further. It was great to meet the people behind the project and understand the support they need for conservation going forward and how we can continue to support such vital work.
As part of our Honesty Project, Craghoppers are passionate about looking after the people behind the projects as well as the environment. It’s really important to engage and do as much as we can, to learn from the locals who have first had experience of the threats to the environment, as well as transfer knowledge and skills from the Chester Zoo conservation team to the local community to enable them to deal with conservation issues on a daily basis. Speaking with locals was invaluable and gave myself and the Chester Zoo team a deep insight into the challenges they face on every day.
The trip provided an opportunity to help with other areas of conservation too, I enjoyed rolling up my sleeves and getting stuck in. I got to grips with the GPS units and marking waypoints. The other areas of interest included small mammals, herpetology and birds. Some of the most fascinating birds in the world are endemic to Madagascar so it was interesting to survey rare birds that were in the area.
Madagasikara Voakajy are hoping to develop the site for future ecotourism. This aims to attract visitors hoping to see some of the rarest birds and wildlife in the world and it was exciting to trek the paths and discover what wildlife there is for future tourists to see.
Camp life is something I really miss – the whole group really got on well and became like a big family. I know that it sounds cliché, but I believe it’s rare to have a group that got on so well and supported each other throughout the expedition.
Craghoppers look forward to supporting Chester Zoo with their mission of preventing extinction.