Close-Up: Who’s Behind the Pocket Guide?

They followed him around, wanting to be photographed. When they saw him taking pictures of the gorilla statue, they quickly encircled it. He didn’t mind, at all. He started to dance — he wiggled his behind, to be precise — and made them laugh.

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Download the 2018 Summer Edition of the Pocket Guide (14 MB)

That is how Marcus Westberg (Sweden) got the image that will define the 2018 Summer Edition of the Gorilla Highlands Pocket Guide. Marcus doesn’t only contribute most of the images, he is a sort of a photo editor as well.

The photograph was taken at the headquarters of Kahuzi-Biega National Park in DR Congo in November 2017. The upcoming edition of the GH Pocket Guide started with many pages devoted to Congo, so it was automatic that a Congolese motif would grace the cover. Even as we have been forced to put that expansion on hold, the beautiful cover image remains. It symbolises our focus on people and features the coolest humans of them all.

“I love kids! They are easy photo subjects, if you don’t talk down to them. I try to get down on their level —quite literally — and connect with them before I start photographing. I also find that doing something silly, showing them that I’m not a serious, scary adult, helps break the ice in no time,” says Marcus.

Suzy Claridge (UK) has a somewhat more complex relation with children… She is mothering a little boy and fitting graphic design freelancing around him. She is always there for us; you can see her latest work above: a fresh take on the booklet’s advertising pages.

“Making things visually better is where I come in. Whether it’s the Pocket Guide, a poster or a press pack, I love helping to spread the word about the region. The Pocket Guide has had many designers involved over the years so I cannot claim it for my own, but I’m hoping this issue will be clearer for readers and excite them to explore.”

It’s never nice of an employee to take a client away from her employer. But what if the client is pro-bono? Suzy began helping the Gorilla Highlands initiative many years ago while still at Design Original, as part of the company’s social responsibility. The birth of her son made her quit … but not on us!

“Miha fills up my inbox and WhatsApp until I must do the work to clear it! 😂😂😂”, says Suzy in a WhatsApp message.

Miha Logar (Uganda) was actually attacking inboxes of Rwandan hotels yesterday. He based himself at Kisoro’s Coffee Pot, enjoyed a double portion of his favourite snack, Chicken Baguette, and emailed, emailed, emailed. When each and every potential advertiser was ticked in a massive online spreadsheet, he took a night boda boda to a campsite at Lake Kayumbu.

“I like my life dynamic, I like it when many things are happening at many places. This week I’m also supporting a 7-day hiking trip, dealing with a dramatic increase in volunteer applications and putting together a six-month financial report. But the Pocket Guide is always on my mind, because I feel we are creating something essential and extraordinary. If that means spending days on my laptop trying to motivate businesses to support it, so be it,” says the booklet’s editor-in-chief. To understand where he is taking the project, you can read his recent interview for ACT News.

There is a Gorilla Highlands team member who has sent even more emails than Miha… Jean Paul Ishimwe (Rwanda) is pictured here at our Lake Bunyonyi headquarters.

“I was searching for good places in Kabale where I could take a lady to, and that is when I found the Gorilla Highlands website. I read through the activities, was very interested in doing them, and saw there was a volunteering option. Being a volunteer came with discounts, so I applied,” says Paul.

He first helped us at Gorilla Highlands Silverchef 2018, then joined our guide training, suddenly found himself in a management position … and became a master emailer!

“Email has an ability that many channels do not: it creates valuable personal touches at scale,” says our student of Information Technology.

Electronic communication can’t do everything, however… Isabelle Masozera (Uganda/Rwanda) cut short her maternity leave and jumped into action in Kampala, recruiting Ugandan businesses. Not even the nightmare Kampala Jam could stop her! She carried with her a secret weapon, her sister Tezy, for marketing support.

“We have been merely scratching the surface so far. There are still way too many places who have never heard of the Pocket Guide… We have received a lot of positive feedback and I think our plan to publish three booklets a year will prove realistic,” says Isabelle.