Gorillas in Rwanda

The boundary of Virunga National Park is marked by a rock wall that keeps the buffaloes and elephants from getting into the potato fields that reach right up to its base. The ranger explains that it also helps to keep people from taking that extra foot or two when they plow their fields and thus protects the park. We clamber over the rock wall and head into the thick bamboo forest.

…Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed….


Today we have to climb for a few hours to see them. We’ve been allocated the most famous Sousa group of Mountain Gorillas and we climb high into the forest. Coming out of the bamboo forest we enter a thicker Hygenia forest where we start to see their signs. The trackers have found them and we push on, joining them back on the edge of the bamboo forest.

… He moves in darkness as it seems to me-
Not of the woods only and the shade of trees.


I am staring into the eyes of one of the worlds few Silverback Mountain Gorillas as he crosses his arms to scratch his shoulder, tilts his head, and watches me. There is a sadness in his big, dark eyes and the furrows on his face like those of a man in deep contemplation who has something he wants to share. Living in the thick dark rainforests of the 15000ft Virunga Massif at the confluence of three countries torn by civil war and an exploding human population. His deep and gentle stare distracts me from the stinging of the nettles we have walked through for the last few hours. We sit there in awe at this gentle and massive animal. The young ones play, seemingly oblivious to us, but they also keep their distance. A black-back sits with his back to us, occasionally glancing at us. Its time to leave soon, and we all wish we could stay a bit longer.



Poem excerpts from Robert Frost's Mending Walls.

This is a bit of an article I wrote about a safari in Rwanda. I hope you enjoyed.
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