Travel

Rwandan gorillas in our midst

One the mountain gorilla family, known as Susa, in Rwanda.
One the mountain gorilla family, known as Susa, in Rwanda. Rae Wilson

SO IN awe of a huge silverback mountain gorilla emerging from the mist curtain, I did not move fast enough from his intended path and I had a sizeable bruise on my shin to prove it. The second-in-charge silverback (they can weigh up to 200kg), kicked me as he charged through in a playful show of his power high in a Rwandan jungle.

Another gorilla tried to grab a fellow traveller's arm on the way past, while the 57-year-old mother in my small group of eight got a love-tap on the bottom as she had her photo taken. Habituated to deal with human interaction over more than a decade, these gorillas love to put on a show. Beating their chests with clenched fists, both the big boys and the babies, they walked around on two legs like humans - some at a height taller than us.

 

QLD151115GORILLA02: The mountain gorilla family, known as Susa, in Rwanda. Photo: Rae Wilson
QLD151115GORILLA02: The mountain gorilla family, known as Susa, in Rwanda. Photo: Rae Wilson Rae Wilson

They yawned, they blinked, they farted and they shoved food in their mouths at a rapid pace. Looking into the eyes of the males was like glimpsing the souls of wise old men. It felt as if they were reflecting back to us, the human group, the lessons they had learnt in this life.

The mums, clearly besotted with their young, radiated love and pride as they nurtured and groomed their babies. They nurse until their children are more than three years old. They were quick to move the babies to protect them if we humans came too close. But they knew the dominant silverback, the chief in the famous Susa family, was nearby so they did not rush away too far. If he made a gruff sound, though, the females had to fall into line and stop whatever behaviour was annoying him.

 

QLD151115GORILLA03: The mountain gorilla family, known as Susa, in Rwanda. Photo: Rae Wilson
QLD151115GORILLA03: The mountain gorilla family, known as Susa, in Rwanda. Photo: Rae Wilson Rae Wilson

We were told the mothers could have four to six children but there was no record of seven. Boys could impregnate from age 12 but they could not interfere with their dad's harem or violence ensued. Similarly, girls must move on to other families after reaching baby-making age at eight years to avoid incest.

Researcher Dian Fossey, made famous when her book Gorillas in the Mist was adapted for film, studied the Susa family before her death.

Be prepared for the trek into the jungle. The guides said it could take anywhere from half an hour to a couple of hours. Mine was three hours up a mountain, half of it in the mist and slipping on the bamboo forest floor. While the hike was tough and the price was hefty (about $975), the hour with these majestic endangered creatures was worth it.

 

Topics:  gorillas rwanda travel travel-international



Clarence Valley's last POW farewelled

IN LOVING MEMORY: Clarence Valley identity Clifford Lowien was farewelled on Monday at Yamba's All Saints Anglican Church.

Clifford Lowien remembered as a larrakin who could talk to anyone

Last chance to win $1000 this Christmas

Fancy $1000 this Christmas? We're giving six $1000 EFTPOS cards away!

TODAY is the last day to get your name in the running to win a $1000!

Another scorcher, but respite on the way

Taken at Yamba Main Beach on Monday night, 6th December, 2016.

Thunderstorms order of the day in the Clarence Valley

Local Partners

GALLERY: Valley dance studio concerts in pictures

TAKE a peek at our huge collection of photos showcasing fabulous dance concerts from five of the Clarence Valley's dance studios.


How people power stopped the gas mines

Iluka resident and character in the film, Ian Gaillard, addresses the crowd of anti-CSG protesters at Bentley.

Award-winning documentary to be screened in the Clarence Valley

Bored? Here's 9 things to do this weekend

The Clarence Valley Mental Health Fishing Group are holding a Christmas fishing event at Memorial Park.

Looking for something to do this weekend?

Bringing their Magic Mojo to Grafton

MAGIC: Head down to Roches Family Hotel for a brilliant mix of '70s, '80s and '90s music by Magic Mojo, a Coffs Coast band using their experience to give a brilliant performance.

Powerful trio to lift the top off Roches Hotel tonight

Hollywood star at home on the Coffs Coast

FEELING LUCKY, SON?: Scott Eastwood visited the Coffs Coast

Guess which Hollywood star has been seen around the Coffs Coast?

GALLERY: Valley dance studio concerts in pictures

The under 8 jazz troupe at the Studio 1 Dance Academy concert

Check out some of the best dancers in town

Ricky Gervais: There's 'no point' marrying Jane Fallon

RICKY Gervais "doesn't see the point" in marrying Jane Fallon.

Hacksaw Ridge wins big in first round of AACTA Awards

Luke Bracey and Andrew Garfield in a scene from the movie Hacksaw Ridge.

THE major awards will be handed out on Wednesday night.

Paris Hilton fumes at clumsy partygoers

A reveller spilt their drink on Paris Hilton's DJ decks

Winnie Harlow isn't a role model

Winnie Harlow insists she isn't a role model.

Developer's grand new multi-million dollar estate

NEW ESTATE: This is the only plan revealed by the property developer's new Billabongs Estate in Agnes Water.

DEVELOPER given the go ahead for a massive estate with 149 homes.

Banks reclaim Gladstone homes as job losses bite

LONG FALL: Property experts Heron Todd say, based on key market indicators, Gladstone is still travelling to the bottom of the market, with property prices set to get cheaper.

Property valuers say Gladstone housing market hasn't hit the bottom

The million dollar property to test Mackay's market

This Victoria St building will go to auction Tuesday and investors will be watching closely to see how much it sells for.

'High profile architect designed CBD asset' goes to auction

Chinese locked out of Australian property market

The rules are different if you're a foreigner

The buyer was from China - the trouble started right there

Morrison signs off on new affordable rental model

Australia's Treasurer Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference after a meeting of the Council of Federal Financial Relations at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016.

Scott Morrison signed off on development of a new financing model

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!