A HAMPSHIRE wildlife curator has just returned from climbing one of world’s tallest mountains.

John Pullen, Marwell Wildlife’s curator of mammals, joined a group of ten conservationists in January to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to raise money for charity.

The group spent months training for the epic journey, which took them a total of six days to complete, battling altitude sickness and extreme weather conditions to reach the summit.

The trip was organised as part of the ‘pole to pole campaign’ run by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria which aims to raise awareness of the impact the world is having on the polar caps and its wildlife.

John said: “We had five days of walking and scrambling over difficult terrain, acclimatising to the increasingly low oxygen levels until we got to the highest camp. From here we were poised for the summit bid through the night in -10C temperatures and we finally reached Uhuru Peak at 7am.

“The views were breathtaking, we could see for hundreds of miles across the African plains below. It was a truly memorable experience. We were exhausted but elated and we started the five hour decent back to our tents, and much needed sleep!”

Each team member raised money for their own chosen charities with John raising funds for rhino monitoring at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya.

Marwell Wildlife has worked with the Conservancy for over ten years to help develop infrastructure to support and implement wildlife research and is currently creating a new position of rhino monitoring officer. The role requires specialist equipment, all of which has been paid for with the money raised by Mr Pullen.

“Lewa’s high-performance research and security teams monitor black rhinos in a protected environment, combining age-old wisdom and cutting-edge technology,” he added. “Their aim is to understand the species, enhance growth rates, and withstand the threat of poaching.

“Aided by highly trained security personnel, Lewa continues to be Kenya’s leading catalyst for endangered wildlife conservation.

“It’s fantastic to be able to raise funds for such a worthy cause and I can honestly say it was the biggest challenge of my life.”

To make a donation to Mr Pullen’s cause visit justgiving.com/John-Pullen1.