Among Mountain Gorillas
When I saw the video of the tourist being encountered by the Mountain gorillas in Uganda my first thought was that I wish it had been me. Physical contact with a wild animal so powerful and magnificent is life changing. The silverback, which sat patiently nearby in the video, is a gentle plant eater, but he could crush you in an instant if you threatened his family.
My wife Judy and I had a chance to film mountain gorillas in Rwanda 10 years ago. All the world’s 600 or so mountain gorillas are found in a small group of volcanic cones where Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda come together at a point.
Rich and Judy Kern
For several hours we trekked up the steep slopes of Mt. Karisimbi to where the so-called Susa family was resting and feeding. It was the largest family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda at the time.
We were exhausted when we arrived, but exhilarated to see the family playing and stripping pith from the herbaceous plants on the slope. There were over 30 of them. We had been told not to stand tall in the presence of the silverback or to stare intently into his eyes.
Judy must have become entranced when she drew close to the 450- pound male. She forgot the rules as she rolled off some quick footage. The silverback took note of her intense stare. Suddenly, he galloped behind her and wacked her on the back with his giant arm. It wasn’t as sublime as the incident in Uganda where the man got a free grooming by the gorillas, but it was something Judy will never forget.
Click below to see the delightful gorilla clip