Julia Baker

I was at Ruhjia during the period 2000-2001 undertaking research for my PhD. 

When asked what I remember best, there are so many memories that it is difficult to say what the best moments were or what was most memorable, although one thing that stands out is just how lucky I was to have been a researcher at ITFC.  Field research can be wonderful but also challenging, and at every step of the way I had incredible support especially from Alastair and Martha.  ITFC is more than a research station. It is a place of encouragement and collaboration combined with a desire for knowledge and achieving conservation at the highest standard.  I learnt so much while I was at ITFC and am indebted to everyone at ITFC for such an incredible experience.

An experience that included walking up and down the steepest hills I have ever known in my life, to such an extent that I once dreamt about walking on flat land!

Living at ITFC is not just about being at a research station, but living within Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.  I had the front room of the student dormitory at Ruhija and while in between field surveys, I was working there one morning.  On taking a break to wander outside, my camp keeper walked up to me holding something in his hand.  It was a small and beautiful chameleon. We admired it and then carefully placed it in a sheltered woody area and, in that moment, I had an insight into the vast, wonderful array of Bwindi forest.

ITFC Researcher's House - June-01.JPG ITFC Researcher's house 2001

Field surveys were the focus of my time at Ruhija and, for one survey, I had brought my laptop and the ‘GoldenEye’ DVD that my family had posted to me for my birthday.  On our last night my laptop battery was good so I invited my field assistant Narsis and our camp keeper Innocent to watch the film.  The screen was tiny, the laptop speakers were not great and most of the time Pierce Brosnan was drowned out by night sounds of the forest, but there was something about being huddled together in one of the most incredible forests in the world watching James Bond.

ITFC has achieved so much since it was established.  Possibly one of its greatest achievements is the combination of research and conservation management whereby learning and knowledge is directly applied to conservation practice.  The range of activities being undertaken at ITFC and variety of people and organisations involved make it a unique and special place."

Dr Julia Baker CEnv MIEEM
Biodiversity & Environment
Chris Britton Consultancy
Balfour Beatty - Professional Services
UK.