Dr Richard Parnell (member 7750) comes from Sussex, England, where as a youth he was variously employed as a shepherd and tree surgeon before finding work as a gorilla tracker in Gabon and Congo, Central Africa. After 13 years of study, he shifted his attentions to the marine realm and now directs a project for the Wildlife Conservation Society in Mayumba National Marine Park in Gabon (mayumbanationalpark.com), working on humpback whales, dolphins, and sea turtles, while attempting to chase off illegal trawlers.
Richard has had the great fortune to have discovered one of the few professions in which it is possible to watch clouds and get paid for it, “In Congo, I spent three years watching a swampy rainforest clearing from a tree-platform,” he tells us. “In the down-time between visits from gorilla groups, I had the luxury of lying on my back and contemplating the heavens while still officially ‘at work’”.
Richard is the only person we know to have included in a published academic paper the startled reaction of a wild gorilla to a particularly dramatic cloud formation. For this, he should be applauded. He is 42 and lives with Aimee, one cat and three small dogs.