Hi, Eusebe here. A few days ago, Julie, two Sports for Gorillas kids – Habibu and Valens – and I visited mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. We visited Hirwa Group with 17 members; 1 silverback, 7 adult females, 2 black backs, and 7 juveniles and babies. Munyinya is the silverback of 27 years of age. It is an enthusiastic group with the juveniles playing a lot. Mama Kabatwa’s twins, Isango Gakuru and Isango Gato, are so cute and healthy. Another very exciting thing is that Mama Mararo has a baby born on the 2nd of February 2012. She is so protective and loving to her new baby. The baby will soon be named at the Kwita Izina Ceremony in June. Visiting this group was really wonderful.
At the park’s buffer wall, Bernice, our guide from RDB, gives the tourists a briefing on how to behave inside the park and in front of the mountain gorillas.
Park guide, Olivier, while munching on a bamboo shoot, tells us that bamboo shoots are like beer to the mountain gorillas because when they eat them they become so animated.
Olivier, RDB Guide, shows us a favorite treat of the mountain gorillas, bamboo shoots.
This was the first opportunity for me to see the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Being face to face with the gorillas made me so happy. I watched carefully their behaviors which I have been studying ever since working at Art of Conservation. I watched their eating, playing, size, shape, colors, chest slapping… all things I have been learning about from people in conservation, and from books and documentaries.
We viewed Hirwa Group on a slope of the volcano foothills. They put on a great display of playing, standing up and walking bipedal, chest beating, wrestling, rolling down the steep slope and running back up again.
Mountain gorillas are approximately 98% genetically similar to humans. Their gestation period is 9 months as people. An infant will cling to its mama for about 3 years and share a night nest with her.
Mama Mararo’s baby, born on the 2nd of February 2012, takes milk from its mama. The baby will soon be named on 16 June 2012 at the Kwita Izina Ceremony (Rwanda’s annual gorilla naming ceremony).
Mountain gorillas… so happy and peaceful in their home.
Art of Conservation’s sponsored Sports for Gorillas programs are providing the Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club members who are 15 years and older a visit to the mountain gorillas. Valens and Habibu are the first while the other kids are waiting for their turn! We will let you know more about this later.
Valens (left), Habibu (right), Silverback Munyinya (far back), and I (middle) in the mountain gorilla’s lush home. You can see all of the healthy plants, let’s protect them!!