THREATENED chimpanzees in West Africa are being given new hope - thanks to a Huddersfield University lecturer.
Carl Meddings travelled to The Gambia to advise on new buildings at a rescue centre.
He went 150 miles upriver to a site run by a woman and her husband from Huddersfield.
The Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Trust is run by Stella Marsden, 52, and her husband David, 59, who is originally from Birkby.
Now back at his desk in Huddersfield, Mr Meddings is aiming to make the Trust better known - and, hopefully, encourage people to make donations.
One of his aims is to recruit a volunteer joiner from England to work in Africa for a couple of months.
Mr Meddings, a senior architecture lecturer at the university, said: "I'd never been to The Gambia before and I can see that this won't be my last visit.
"It is a beautiful country with very warm and welcoming people. I think it's the sort of place that gets into your soul.
"I enjoyed my time upriver with the chimps and I'm looking forward to going back."
He flew to The Gambia to give advice on a small eco-tourist facility that will generate income for the camp and the local community.
Together with helpers, they protect 64 chimpanzees who live on three islands in the River Gambia National Park.
Many of the chimps were taken from poachers or beaches in Spain where they were photographed with tourists.
The trust is self-funded through a chimp adoption scheme but needs to develop additional income.
Mr Meddings said: "Funding this work has always been difficult."
Initially it was supported by proceeds from the sales of The Forest Dwellers, a book written by Stella Marsden, who was then Stella Brewer.
A one-hour documentary film of the project, made by Hugo van Lawick, also contributed but both sources dried up many years ago.
Stella and David Marsden have been working since 1969 to save orphaned chimpanzees from becoming sad captives, or worse, substitute humans in a laboratory. They now need to raise £120,000 to turn the tourist camp plans into a reality and make other developments.
Mr Meddings said: "There will only ever be eight visitors in the camp and while there they will stay in safari tents on raised platforms built into the hillside above the trees or on floating lodges on the river, at a safe distance from hippos and crocs.
"If the local community can benefit from the existence of the camp then the welfare of the villagers and the chimps can be assured beyond Stella and David's time."
Stella and David Marsden are planning to move to The Gambia full-time to run the project.
The couple have put their home in Gloucestershire on the market in preparation for the move.
* Are you a joiner who can help develop the camp? Ring Carl Meddings on 01484 473134 or e-mail him at email@example.com
Want to make a donation? Contact the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Trust at IPPL, Gilmore House, 166 Gilmore Road, London SE13 5AE or visit the website at www.chimprehab.com