Tuesday, July 26, 2016

No Monkeying Around


We have been busy at work analyzing the data we collected thus far. As a break I had the opportunity to go gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Southwestern Uganda on the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In this specific national park there are at least five families of gorillas each having more than 11 gorillas. Before the tracking began we were told that along the journey we would see wild elephants, baboons, monkeys, and of course gorillas.

We set off on our hike downhill. I naively thought the steep downhill portion would be easy, but I was wrong. Even though our guide cleared our path using a machete I quickly learned the true meaning of an “impenetrable forest.” After over three hours of trekking through streams and heavy brush we reached the gorillas. First, we came across a five year old gorilla that was playing with sugarcane. His name was Happy, and he thought it’d be funny to touch my ankle. He was playful and harmless, so we all laughed. We saw gorillas of all ages from small three year olds to the great male silverback. The male silverback is the prominent male leader of the family weighing over 400 kg (which is over 850 lbs.) Wherever he was moving it was a sure bet that that rest of the family would be close behind following.

Being with the gorillas for over an hour made me appreciate their magnificent beauty. I could tell they were very intelligent, gentle creatures.

Here are some of my favorite gorillas:

Posing with the family's male silverback mountain gorilla
This is the infamous gorilla Happy

A mother gorilla and her baby
In fact gorilla siblings play and fight too


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