These beautiful creatures are known in scientific terms as Gorilla beringei beringei. They are one species of the great apes and can be found in central Africa. This week’s installment of Snapshot Monday ~ Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda is a picture that I took while visiting Kigali and had the immense pleasure of spending an hour with a troop of these gentle giants.
Snapshot Monday ~ Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda
With the influx of human violence, war, and destruction, the population of these amazing animals is down to 700 in the wild. With conservationists like Dian Fossey, awareness and knowledge of these gentle apes is spreading.
Expert climbers, Gorillas prefer to be on the ground in troops or communities comprising of as many as 30 individuals. A dominant adult male, called a silverback because of the patch of silver hair that dominates it’s upper back, is the leader in the troop very organized social structure. Their family unit includes several females, younger males, and offspring.
After an hour hike up Volcanoes National Park Rwanda I came upon the ‘family’ of this beautiful boy. He was quietly munching on vegetation and after a very uninterested glance our way, continued to eat, grunting what I can only assume where communications to the other members who where also eating and sleeping around us.
I was over joyed with my visit and could only imagine the thrill the American naturalist Dian Fossey had living and researching these magnificent creatures. She began her research into the lives of these mystic creature’s behavior in the 1960s. Her dedication and avocation to stop poaching brought unwanted attention to the poachers that where hired to kill the animals for their supposed medicinal purposes. (No there is no proof or medical confirmation that any part of these animals can cure or enhance disease or human performance) Unfortunately, for her efforts she was murdered the day after Christmas of 1985.
The experience was one that I will never forget. These peaceful, gentle giants are endangered and while sitting and visiting their ‘home’ I couldn’t help but wonder who we, as humans, think we are to destroy such beautiful animals for our own pleasure? I was angered and disappointed in our supposed “superior species” behavior.
Awareness, education, and advocacy for these animals and all others that are endangered are the only way to save them. There are fantastic and responsible conservation tour groups that do wonderful things to help bring the plight of these animals to the forefront and I’m happy to support them. (Yes, the group that I chose to visit this troop with is one of them.)
I hope you enjoyed this week’s installment of Snapshot Monday ~ Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda. Have you ever visited a wild Gorilla troop? Would you like to? Share your experiences with us!