Visit Rwanda to Know About Mountain Gorilla
HISTORY OF MOUNTAIN GORILLAS IN RWANDA
Such a close experience would be impossible without the revolutionary work of Dian Fossey. The legendary primatologist arrived in the Virunga Mountains in 1966 with very little field experience. At the time, mountain gorillas were feral; their only previous human contact had been with poachers. Enduring temperatures below 40ºF, carrying equipment on their backs and traveling through dense vegetation and mudslides, Fossey and his team founded the Karisoke Research Center in a valley at 12,000 feet between two volcanic peaks-Karisimbi and Visoke.
By imitating the sounds and body language of gorillas, Fossey gradually accustomed these gentle giants to their presence in order to be able to closely observe their daily life. She also created “active nature protection” tactics that are still used today, finished traps, imposed anti-poaching laws, conducted censuses and advocated for the expansion of protected habitats.
FRANÇOISE, OUR FOSSEY-LOGIN
We met Françoise and her team of tracers and porters at sunrise at the visitor center of the volcanoes National park. The area was lively: a traditional dance troupe entertained the hikers, while the guides gathered in a circle to determine which of us would visit the usual 10 groups of mountain gorillas in the park. We had heard about Françoise the day before from a couple at the Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, an eco-Lodge located 10 minutes from the entrance to the park. They told us how entertaining he was and that he had worked as Dian Fossey’s Doorman in the 70s. Thanks to Arthur, our Thousand Hills Expeditions guide, we managed to win places in François’s group of 8 people.
OUR GORILLA TREKKING EXPERIENCE
We start the visit with an orientation and we learn the rules of gorilla experiences. Most of them are obvious – no food around animals, minimize noise, no flash photography and maintain a minimum distance of 20 feet. It is also important to avoid eye contact with money-backs and avoid behaviors that could be perceived as aggressive.
The Sabyinyo group is the closest and easiest family to follow in the volcanoes National Park. You are on the hills between Mt. Sabyinyo and Mt. Gahinga. His Alpha male, Guhonda, is the largest silver ridge in Volcanoes National Park and weighs 485 pounds! Her family includes four breeding bitches, many mature offspring and at least three babies.
A MAGICAL HOUR WITH THE MOUNTAIN GORILLAS
It is impossible to describe the adrenaline rush of standing next to a family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda. The experience is a roller coaster ride exuberant With emotions-anticipation, intimidation, enthusiasm, fear. From the moment we turn the corner to see Mom Karema and her baby Urukuta feeding at eye level, time seems to go into HyperDrive. Many times the gorillas come so close to us that we have to lean into the surrounding vegetation to avoid them. A woman whose back was turned as a woman approached received a gentle touch from her shoulder, as if to say: “Come through!”I could have spent hours watching Guhonda quietly feed on bamboo leaves, leaving her sharp and dirty teeth with shiny pink gums.