Monday, November 7, 2011

Visiting the Eastern Lowland Gorillas!!!!

This morning we had the opportunity to witness a sight that will stay in our memories and hearts forever... we went into Kahuzi-Biega National Park to meet the primates we are trying to help save through our project: the Eastern Lowland Gorilla. We were lucky enough to see the largest of the two gorilla families visitors can observe, a group of 36 gorillas (1 silverback, 20 females and 15 infants). In total, there are currently 139 recorded gorillas at the park, after the species lost great numbers during the war, but with the help of the park wardens and projects such as ours, their population is slowly beginning to rise again.

We climbed through the bush until we spotted a mother, Makali, calmly picking leaves and eating, with her baby, Mahrane, in her arms.  Mahrane was tiny, only about 1 month old, and already couldn't contain his curiosity towards us. We sat just a few meters away from them, human observing gorilla observing human in peaceful coexistence.... it was breathtaking.

Makali with her baby, Mahrane

The whole time, we were surrounded by gorillas moving around in the bush, rumbling and stomping and making noises and pounding their chests all around us, just meters away. Up in the canopy, the  trees swayed as huge primates sat on their branches, slowly chewing away at their morning meal. At one point, we heard a loud rumble and we realized the silverback was making his way down the trunk of a tree. We came closer and were suddenly standing 3 meters away from this massive, elegant, harmonious creature... we couldn't believe our eyes. Minutes seemed like seconds and shorly after, he was followed by many females who made their way down from their respective trees to follow their leader in the family's daily stroll. 

Seeing the gorillas is a truly humbling experience.  Being in the presence of such calm, graceful, social creatures that do not cause anyone any harm makes you realize the terrible decisions humanity has made and how important it is to reverse the damage we have caused. We are truly grateful for having had the opportunity to witness such a magnificent element in nature's miraculous web, and proud to be participating in a project aimed at saving this endangered species.

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