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24 September 2014

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A Black Rhinoceros
A Black Rhinoceros

Up Kilimanjaro with the Adams Family

The brother and sister of Douglas Adams are helping to save Africa's rhinos by climbing the continent's highest peak in January. In doing so they'll be continuing the conservation work that Douglas devoted much of his life to.

Douglas Adams' who wrote The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is perhaps less well remembered for his passion for conservation work. Now the brother and sister of the best selling author who lived in Dorset, are planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya in order to draw attention to the plight of the African Rhino.

Douglas joined Save the Rhino International as founder Patron of the charity, and continued actively supporting their work until his untimely death in 2001.

Douglas Adams
Douglas Adams

Although Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy was about futuristic and surreal interplanetary happenings (much of which was written at his home in Stalbridge), Douglas was a keen conservationist and highlighted the absurdities of life on this planet.  His last book, Last Chance to See, took him journey around the world looking for animals on the brink of extinction.

James Thrift who lives in Shaftesbury told BBC Dorset: "Douglas always said 'Last Chance to See' was the work he was most proud of and for the last 10 years of his life, his focus was completely on conservation.  If everyone had to read it in school, the world would be a very different place."

Jane and James Thrift are preparing to climb all 19,340 feet of Africa’s highest peak - Mount Kilimanjaro. The aim of the expedition is to carry on Douglas’ work in raising money and awareness for Save the Rhino's projects in Africa, including paying for armed guards for Kenya's rhino population.

Jane, who lives in Dorchester and is herself a graduate zoologist said: "Douglas' passion for things was infectious, and I suppose that is why I can no longer sit by and watch the wholesale destruction of such a magnificent species as the Rhino that has been around for 45 million years."

Jane Thrift, Douglas Adams' sister
Jane Thrift, Douglas Adams' sister

By the time James and Jane climb Kilimanjaro, the chances are the Northern White Rhino could well have been wiped out by poachers: "If Douglas was alive today, he'd be hopping mad about this and shouting about it on every TV station.  Once they are gone, they are gone."

Between now and January, it'll be a tough training regime for James and Jane: "We'll be doing a lot of cycling and walking the whole Jurassic coast path, with all it's ups and downs.  But the effects of the altitude above 11,000 feet is the big unknown." said James.

It's been an eventful year for the Thrifts - the launch of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy fired them into the celebrity limelight, attending movie premieres in both London and at their local cinema, the Plaza in Dorchester.

The interest the film has generated has brought Douglas' work to a new audience according to James: "To see the film finally made after 20 years was fantastic. And hopefully it'll mean more people will have heard of Douglas' work  - showing that we are not immune from what we are doing to the planet and everything we do will come back and have an impact on us."

last updated: 24/08/05
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