2019 Press Releases

Sadie Mayes Incredible Journey to Gorilla Doctors

23 September 2019

Last year LIA challenged the creative community to produce a creative piece of work to help promote the work of the Gorilla Doctors. On the final day of 2018 Creative LIAisons the program attendees, as well as, a panel of advertising legends judged all the entries submitted to the Gorilla Doctors competition.

Sadie Mayes of VCCP London was chosen for her creative idea highlighting an unexpected threat to gorillas, while raising the profile of Gorilla Doctors. ‘Gorilla Issues Tissues’ are special packs of tissues, which stress the life threatening respiratory infections passed from humans to the gorillas. Sadie was awarded a trip to Rwanda to meet the Gorillas and their doctors.

On the 16th August, I embarked on what became the best trip of my life!

I was the lucky winner of the LIA’s Gorilla Doctor competition and, in conjunction with Terra Incognita EcoTours, was awarded a trip of a lifetime to see the Mountain Gorillas that the Gorilla Doctors look after.

The first part of the trip was a safari in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. While in the Mara we were based at an amazing camp called Little Governors Camp. It is situated around a watering hole and we often had elephants, hippos and warthogs joining us for lunch!

It was the great migration whilst we were there so we witnessed vast numbers of wildebeest. On one of the days we got up early to take a sunrise hot air balloon directly from our camp, with a champagne breakfast on the Mara. It was incredible to see the landscape from the air, the Mara River is beautiful, you truly get an idea of the huge size of the Maasai Mara.

I wasn't sure that anything could have topped these few days we spent in the Mara but I was wrong!

The second half of the trip was spent in Rwanda staying at the beautiful Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge situated at the foot of the Sabyinyo Volcano, where we spent two days Gorilla Trekking. Noel, one of the vets working for Gorilla Doctors came to talk to us about the work they do to protect the Mountain Gorillas. It was fascinating to hear how they work closely with local trackers to monitor the Gorilla’s health. They monitor them for everything from flesh wounds inflicted from group fighting to respiratory infections. They have to make incredibly difficult decisions as to when to step in and help and when to let nature to take its course. What I found most fascinating was how the whole community comes together for these incredible animals. Everyone plays a role, from the trackers to the porters and even the local artists who sell tourists their wares when they come back from hikes. So not only is the work the Gorilla Doctors do incredibly important for the gorilla population but also for the economy of the local area. Mountain gorillas are the only gorilla species whose numbers are increasing and that has a lot to do with Gorilla Doctors and the people of Rwanda. If you ever get the chance to visit Rwanda and the Gorillas, do it! You will not be disappointed. I will never forget the moment I set eyes on them for the first time.

I am so grateful to everyone who made this trip possible, never in a million years did I think I’d ever have experienced anything like it. It will stay very close to my heart and I will think about it often.