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Gorilla News

March 11, 2013 East Africa Bush Tails

This last week has brought us the most amazing weather, slightly cool but dry. The Gorilla treks have been quite varied, some long tough treks and some short ones, with treks to the same gorilla fa milies varying day by day. On some days guests have returned as early as 11:30am and others as late as 15:30.

Nevertheless, everyone returned to Sabyinyo in absolute disbelief of what they have experienced up in the forest with the Gorillas. “Life changing experience” still the phrase of the day! Most visited families of late, Sabyinyo, Hirwa, Agashya, Kwitonda and Umubano.

Equally fascinating and exciting are their much smaller neighbours, the Golden Monkeys! Same as with the Mountain Gorillas, the Golden Monkeys are also unique to this region and found nowhere else. I went to go see them with two of our very recent guests, and boy were these little guys active!!! Not the easiest to photograph, though I managed to get in a few lucky shots.
At present, we have only two habituated families in the Volcanoes National Park here in Rwanda. The first is a family close to the Susa Gorilla family, quite a distance from the park office and therefore very seldom visited by gue sts. The second and biggest family, almost 140 strong, is situated in the National Park, right behind Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge and therefore a much shorter trek. Hopefully within the next few months, a third family will be introduced for tourism. The Nati onal Park staff are very hard at work, habituating the third family. From the point where we left the vehicles, we walked for approximately 25 minutes to the Park boundary and then only 10 minutes from the boundary wall to the Monkeys. I don’t think these guys sit still for more than 2 seconds at a time which made photographing them quite challenging, but a lot of fun non the less! Little caffeine junkies would be a pretty accurate description. They are very well habituated though and often come within 3 to 4 feet from the guests.

With an average body mass of only 6 to 7 kilograms, they move through the thick bamboo canopy at lightening speed. The forest canopy also protects them to their only natural predator, the Crowned Eagle. The young are born after a short gestation period of only 5 months, little over half that of the Mountain Gorillas at 9 months, and are born with a thick coat and with their eyes open. The mothers are very caring and protective of their young. Nursing will last for up to 2 years an d stopped when a new baby is born. Another must see here in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda.

The good weather mentioned earlier has also provided us with even more dramatic sunsets and sunrises. Here are a few taken from the Lodge verandah and close -by.

Photos and text courtesy 
– by: Nelis Wolmarans