In Our Sight...

Mountain Gorillas

Rwanda is a special place... a beautiful country inhabited by people who, to a large degree, are very forgiving.  A country ravaged by genocide in 1994, today Rwanda is seemingly on a positive track to improve life for its citizens.  Our recent trip to photograph the Mountain Gorillas in the Virunga Mountains was a great cultural and photographic experience. 

It is estimated there are only 750 or so mountain gorillas left in the world.  Devestated by poaching in recent years, there is a huge effort now to protect these amazing creatures. 

We made 5 treks to 8,500+ ft. in the mountains to attain these photographs.  Even with many tangling vines, lots of mud, and challenging terrain in and of itself, the treks would prove to be worth the effort.  The longest trek up the volcanos was 2.5 hours each way.  On that day, we visited the Sabinyo Group.  What a day!  The sliverbacks were not shy about letting us know who was the boss.  Overall, the gorillas tolerated our presence very well. 

“I had to remind myself to breathe...”  my reaction after our first hour photographing the Mountain Gorillas.  The time was extremely intense and totally absorbing.

I had one experience in which I happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  In the Umubano group, a silverback was busily ripping several bamboo trees from the ground for lunch.  Just so happens, I was photographing a few feet away in the direct path of the falling trees.  Although the trees stopped just short of my now crouched position, there was nowhere for me to go.  I was up against a tree at my back and had the bamboo up over top of me.  The 450 lb. silverback came within a few feet and stood over me for a few seconds (it seemed much longer).  I stopped shooting and just stared at the ground.  Fortunately, he lost interest and moved on to more important things (i.e., more important to him).

Larry G Kinney Photography

There were occasions in which our guide was pushed to the ground and had to remain there for some time as the silverback glared into his eyes.  After a time, the silverback would go on his way.  Had our guide (Francois) not bowed in submission, I believe it would have been a different story.

©  Larry G Kinney   All Rights Reserved