Following an epiphany in his study, a Banbury man is set to scale the highest mountain in Africa in order to help the continent’s wildlife.
Richard Valdambrini will be travelling to Tanzania in September to tackle the dormant volcano Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for a charity which cares for orphaned elephants.
Richard, 52, who cannot work due to a life long diagnosis of chronic PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), said: “Early last year I was downstairs at my desk and I thought ‘I have to do something’. I’m not living. I’m eating, watching telly but I’m not happy and I want to do something.
“It was like a light bulb moment. I don’t know where it came from, although I have always loved animals, and it just popped into my head to go on safari.”
Inspired, Richard jumped on the Internet and started researching safaris which quickly led him to animal welfare and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT).
Richard said: “I’d heard of the trust from Facebook and it all clicked in my head. I looked at their website and they are based just outside Nairobi.
“So I thought I would fly into Nairobi, sleep in a hotel, the next day visit the nursery and adopt an elephant.”
Richard’s adopted elephant is named Esampu and on a subsequent visit he got the idea of climbing Kilimanjaro. Richard said: “I was in Kenya in Ambolseli National Park where Esampu was found and the border between Kenya and Tanzania is right there with Kilimanjaro just over the border in Tanzania.
“There it was with snow on the top and I thought ‘wow, that would be great to climb but I’ll never do that’.”
In fact Richard will be doing that during a six day climb starting on September 20 and started training for it several weeks ago.
He has funded the trip himself and is looking to raise extra money through donations or sponsorship for DSWT.
Richard said: “One elephant is being killed in Africa every 15 minutes. They’re being decimated and they need so many more rangers.”
To sponsor Richard visit his Just Giving page.