Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Jungle Brother

Volcanoes National Park in northern Rwanda is unsurprisingly home to some impressive peaks.

But it's also home to some even more impressive beasts. This male mountain gorilla is the daddy of one of nine groups in the park which have been habituated to human presence. They're expensive and popular but I hopped on a moped at 5.30 one morning and managed to bag a half price ticket!

They go about their morning business and occasionally come a little close for comfort! People have studied and campiagned for their protection for around 40 years, starting with Diane Fossey who was eventually killed by poachers in the '80s.

After a morning feed and as the sun comes up, they start to get sleepy.

Tell me that doesn't remind you of someone!

Preening the big silver back.

A large section of the park consists of bamboo forest, which has its own special residents.

About 7,000 of these golden monkeys perform acrobaics in bamboo and munch on the shoots. Habituation to allow tourists in to see them is seen as the best way of ensuring protection. There are also elephants and buffalo in the forest but these are very shy. The park is on the border with Uganda and Congo and in the past they have had good reason to be wary of people from at least one direction.

Though most people come here to see gorillas, there's all kinds of wildlife here.

The volcanoes here mean the soil is great and apparently has the biggest earthworms known to man! They grow most of the nation's spuds here and get three crops a year. But the edge of the park is very densely populated with up to 1,000 people per square kilometre.... which explains why tourism, being about 30% of GDP here, is so important to keep the park protected.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Neil,
    You may not see, for a little bit of foliage, but I'm waving at you from Gabon! Enjoy Rwanda. I'm a bit jealous about the gorillas. Also, you mentioned nerves on photographing people... and I want to encourage you to be bold. I'm the same. My best technique is not the sneaky way but a bumbling englishman abroad 'trying to take a photo of this tree but, oh, you've such a nice smile... I don't suppose...' kind of thing. I hope that doesn't sound dodgy. Enjoy!