Travel

Rwandan gorillas in our midst

One the mountain gorilla family, known as Susa, in Rwanda.
One the mountain gorilla family, known as Susa, in Rwanda. Rae Wilson

SO IN awe of a huge silverback mountain gorilla emerging from the mist curtain, I did not move fast enough from his intended path and I had a sizeable bruise on my shin to prove it. The second-in-charge silverback (they can weigh up to 200kg), kicked me as he charged through in a playful show of his power high in a Rwandan jungle.

Another gorilla tried to grab a fellow traveller's arm on the way past, while the 57-year-old mother in my small group of eight got a love-tap on the bottom as she had her photo taken. Habituated to deal with human interaction over more than a decade, these gorillas love to put on a show. Beating their chests with clenched fists, both the big boys and the babies, they walked around on two legs like humans - some at a height taller than us.

 

QLD151115GORILLA02: The mountain gorilla family, known as Susa, in Rwanda. Photo: Rae Wilson
QLD151115GORILLA02: The mountain gorilla family, known as Susa, in Rwanda. Photo: Rae Wilson Rae Wilson

They yawned, they blinked, they farted and they shoved food in their mouths at a rapid pace. Looking into the eyes of the males was like glimpsing the souls of wise old men. It felt as if they were reflecting back to us, the human group, the lessons they had learnt in this life.

The mums, clearly besotted with their young, radiated love and pride as they nurtured and groomed their babies. They nurse until their children are more than three years old. They were quick to move the babies to protect them if we humans came too close. But they knew the dominant silverback, the chief in the famous Susa family, was nearby so they did not rush away too far. If he made a gruff sound, though, the females had to fall into line and stop whatever behaviour was annoying him.

 

QLD151115GORILLA03: The mountain gorilla family, known as Susa, in Rwanda. Photo: Rae Wilson
QLD151115GORILLA03: The mountain gorilla family, known as Susa, in Rwanda. Photo: Rae Wilson Rae Wilson

We were told the mothers could have four to six children but there was no record of seven. Boys could impregnate from age 12 but they could not interfere with their dad's harem or violence ensued. Similarly, girls must move on to other families after reaching baby-making age at eight years to avoid incest.

Researcher Dian Fossey, made famous when her book Gorillas in the Mist was adapted for film, studied the Susa family before her death.

Be prepared for the trek into the jungle. The guides said it could take anywhere from half an hour to a couple of hours. Mine was three hours up a mountain, half of it in the mist and slipping on the bamboo forest floor. While the hike was tough and the price was hefty (about $975), the hour with these majestic endangered creatures was worth it.

 

Topics:  gorillas rwanda travel travel-international


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Coolum dancer makes it big in Canada

17-year-old Coast ballerina awarded bursary to dance overseas.

Local Partners

Renewed hope for Coolum in quest to field premier team

TWO days ago, coach Alex Murphy cut a dejected figure but now things are looking a tad better at the Dolphins.

Noll meltdown won't affect Gympie Oz Day concert

Shannon Noll

Photo Contributed

Shannon Noll is still expected to perform in Gympie next Thursday

The surprising problem police face at Woodford Folk Festival

STREET SCENE: Woodford Folk Festival 2016.

The biggest issue for police at Woodfordia is not what you'd expect

Woodford Folk Festival on track to smash records

Monsieur Camembert performs at Woodford Folk Festival.

Great artists, perfect weather the perfect recipe for Woodford

Ruby Rose's gruelling training regimen to get xXx ready

From left, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Rory McCann, and Vin Diesel in a scene from the movie xXx: The Return of Xander Cage.

AUSSIE stars opposite Vin Diesel in xXx: Return of Xander Cage.

Why Emma Watson turned down Cinderella

Emma Watson in a scene from the movie Beauty and the Beast.

HARRY Potter star has standards when it comes to Disney princesses.

Wonder Woman a ‘disjointed disaster’, says DC insider

Gal Gadot in a scene from the movie Wonder Woman.

INSIDER says the much-hyped blockbuster will disappoint.

Kid nails Swift impersonation

Seven-year-old Xia Vigor nails Taylor Swift impersonation on the Philippine talent show Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids.

TAYLOR Swift has a seven-year-old doppelganger.

Ariana Grande 'hardest working 23-year-old on Earth'?

Ariana Grande

Not everyone was impressed with Grande’s self-proclaimed work ethic

Why The Walking Dead cast are paid a pittance

Despite massive ratings the cast haven't been shown the money

Ipswich block of dirt sells for $582 a square metre

JUST SOLD: A property on the Brookwater golf course sold for a record-breaking $612,000.

Property smashed 2007 record by close to $100,000

Coolum land is hot property

Blank canvas ready to build on

Sunday auction for historical home

Former Catholic school sure to attract spirited bidding

Looking back, looking ahead in Noosa

NEVER-ENDING GLORY: Looking towards Laguna Bay and Hastings St from Noosa National Park.

Natural appeal of Noosa continues to attract buyers

Thousands of jobs part of $1b retirement village project

THIS YEAR: An artist impression of the new Aveo retirement village in Springfield.

Aveo Springfield unveiled this month, homes ready by July

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!