Guardians of the Gorillas

I thought this story was interesting. I’d like to take a similar trip.

The world of the mountain gorilla

At the zigzag passage through the wall we step over a scattering of porcupine quills — some wildlife still travels both directions — and we begin the steep climb up the volcano. We swat away branches, cling to creepers, slide through muck, and whack the biting safari ants as we reel up into the richest ecosystem in Africa. Actress Daryl Hannah, who lives in an off-the-grid home at 10,000 feet in Telluride, has fewer problems with the elevation than the rest of us, and she is quickly at the front of the pack, eager for first contact. Somewhere in the middle flanks of the volcano we hear a rustling, and within a few steps a black ball of fur scrambles to the top of a bamboo stalk. It is Daryl’s first mountain gorilla sighting, and her eyes grow wide.

The gorilla knuckle-walks by us to within a couple feet, and we follow. Suddenly we are surrounded by gorillas, from babies to blackbacks and silverbacks, thrashing about in their own guiltless ways. We listen to a baby whimper as its mother refuses it back passage, an attempt at weaning. We watch as two young males wrestle, fur flying and leaves scattering as they tumble about the forest. “Monkeying around,” Daryl laughs, and for a moment one of the gorillas looks at us and seems to display a toothy smile.

Another baby strolls to one of our video camera microphones, covered in synthetic fur as a wind screen, and reaches out to touch what seems a fellow creature. A mother with disproportionately huge eyes stares at Daryl as though she’s seen her in some movie, but can’t quite place her, and puffs of condensation steam from her mouth. Two other apes rise up and thump their chests with a sound like mallets on wood, and Daryl thumps her own chest back.”

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