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:  travel travel-international


Stay Connected

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

Life as a Muslim in a Catholic school

SHARING BELIEFS: Abdul Malik has been helping people on the Coast understand Islam since he arrived in 2008.

"The more questions they asked me, the more I became energised.”

'It's the best thing I've done': Buddhist nun

FOUND HER CALLING: Lozang Lhagsam said Buddhism helped her identify what was important in life and how to live a meaningful existence.

Follow one woman's journey into Buddhism.

Local Partners

"There were times I cried because I'm not normal”

THE process of applying for and obtaining a job can be challenging for any teenager, but for Brianna Grice it comes with extra challenges.

What to expect at Birds of Tokyo's Ipswich gig

The band will perform at the Racehorse Hotel on Friday.

BAND member Glen Sarangapany talks music, pub grub and doing shoeys

What public holidays are left in 2017

Ipswich residents will get the day off tomorrow for the show.

IPSWICH residents will get tomorrow off for the show

Caitlyn comes home to launch debut album

Gympie's Caitlyn Shadbolt will launch here debut album Songs On My Sleeve at an exclusive all-ages concert in Gympie on Friday, May 26.

Win tickets to Caitlyn's album launch

Book review: Mia Freedman's book meets her critics head on

IF AUSTRALIA does have a tall poppy syndrome, Mia Freedman has most certainly been a victim.

Model Bella Hadid's see-through dress shocks in Cannes

US model Bella Hadid attends the Cinema Against AIDS amfAR gala 2017 held at the Hotel du Cap, Eden Roc in Cap d'Antibes, France, 25 May 2017.

It’s like she’s become addicted to shock value.

No room for morbid fans

Chris Cornell.

Fans want to stay in the hotel room where Chris Cornell died

Star Wars' 1977 Stormtrooper head banger confesses

A Stormtrooper is responsible for the biggest blunder in a Star Wars movie. Picture: Supplied

Man in most famous blooper in Star Wars history breaks silence

Lyn's knock-out show gets her to next round on The Voice

ONWARDS AND UPWARDS: Lyn Bowtell is through to the battle rounds on The Voice.

'It was bitter sweet to win like that'

Report reveals progress on $319m airport upgrade

Aerials of the Sunshine Coast.Jetstar plane in front of the Susnhine Coast terminal, Sunshine Coast Airport.

Over two dozen government approvals needed for airport expansion

Lost dough leaves sour taste after company collapse

Kathleen and John Mahoney from Sugar and Spice Bakery were stung after the collapse of Cantro Pty Ltd and are still owed money.

Supermarket operator collapse leaves sour taste for bakery

Open for inspection homes May 25-31

Check out this weekend's homes open for inspection

A charmer near the beach

Single-level home on leafy, tree-lined 0.92ha Peregian property

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!