Sunday, January 15, 2006

Gorillas in the Mist

Today my teammates and I went up to northwestern Rwanda to see the mountain gorillas. We went to Virunga National Park where they have a population of about 350 gorillas. Between Rwanda and Uganda there are about 700 mountain gorillas still in the wild.

Prior to hiking up to the gorillas' nest, we listened to a briefing by our guide. It sounds like between the Rwandans and the Ugandans, both countries are really making an effort to preserve the gorillas in the wild. Nothing is done to detroy or even alter the gorillas' habitat.

While it's an admirable policy, it made for an arduous hike to the gorillas' nest. We started out at about 6500 feet and hiked up to about 9000 feet through the densest forest I've seen since I was a Boy Scout in Panama. And there is a reason they called the movie "Gorillas in the Mist". The weather was chilly and rainy which made for quite a bit of, you guessed it, mist. The trail (and I use that term loosely) was quite muddy and we were all pretty filthy by the time we reached the nest.

We spent an hour observing a group of 18 gorillas. A group of gorillas are called a band. A band is led by a single silverback. A silverback is a gorilla that is at least 12 years old. (Gorillas have a life span of about 45 years.) In addition to the silverback, there were several blackbacks (adolescent males), females and cubs. We reached the nest at about 10:00 am which is a normal resting time for the gorillas. So unfortunately, most of the gorillas just lay about, although a few were grooming one another. We were hoping to see the silverback display his dominance by beating his chest, but no such luck.

Flash photography is not allowed and my camera doesn't allow me to turn off the flash so I didn't get too many pictures. My colleagues and I are going to pool our pictures, so once that is done I will post the pictures on my Kodak Gallery.

Embedded Video of the Gorillas

This video or more for your site at

This video or more for your site at

This video or more for your site at

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