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Cindy Wheeler | profile | all galleries >> gorillas_in_rwanda_jan_2007 tree view | thumbnails | slideshow
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January 2007 was my first trip to Rwanda to see the mountain gorillas. It was an amazing experience, to say the least. To learn more about how the gorillas live, eat, etc., check this out: http://www.gorillafund.org/mountain_gorillas/life_facts.php

I visited the gorillas on two days. The first day was the Hirwa Group and each group of trekkers is limited to 8 people and 1 hour with the gorillas once you find them. We found the gorillas deep in a dark, dense, bamboo forest. It was pretty exciting to see them after the rough, muddy trek up the mountain. There I was, kneeling down amidst the bamboo, taking pictures. The silverback (the big male "boss" of the group) got up and started walking towards me. I stayed squatted down and tried to "duck walk" out of his way without success. He walked right past me and as he walked by, purposely bumped me with his shoulder. It wasn't a hard bump but it did knock me over (my feet were all tangled up in the vines on the ground). Wow, very cool! Once I got up off the ground, everyone was looking at me with questioning big round eyes so I thought maybe I should have been scared. Maybe it was it the jet lag? stupidity? I don't know but I was totally ok. The gorillas went off to another spot in the bamboo. We got to follow them and I started taking pictures again. After awhile, the silverback got up again and started walking towards me. The tracker/guide was near me so he grabbed my arm and tried to pull me out of the way but the gorilla kept coming. This time he reached out and grabbed my thigh as he walked past. Very cool again! I don't know why he picked me (I swear, I wasn't flirting).

The Mountain Gorilla (species: Gorilla gorilla beringei) is one of the most endangered species and there are only appx 700 mountain gorillas alive IN THE WHOLE WORLD! They are severely threatened by poaching, loss of habitat, human disease, and war. Also, an important fact about the Mountain Gorilla is that none have ever survived in captivity. So if this species is to continue, we must protect their home in the Virungas and Bwindi Mountains.

After the gorilla trek, our tracker made us an ambassador for Rwanda and the gorillas. I'll take my appointment seriously and urge you to make a donation or adopt a gorilla through the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (same website as above). Better yet, visit the beautiful country of Rwanda and see the gorillas in person!

The light was pretty bad in the bamboo forest where we found the gorillas the first day. The exposure on the gorilla foot was 1/20 sec, f/2.8 @ ISO: 1600. (And we weren't allowed to use tripods.)

I hope you enjoy my photos of the mountain gorillas.
gorilla foot
gorilla foot
silverback gorilla
silverback gorilla
Very relaxed silverback  - you can't manuever much so I couldn't get shot without the brush in front of his face.
Very relaxed silverback - you can't manuever much so I couldn't get shot without the brush in front of his face.
Baby gorilla
Baby gorilla
silverback
silverback
EPV0002-copy.jpg
EPV0002-copy.jpg
Gorillas can be identified by their unique nose prints, and like human fingerprints, no two gorilla noses have the same print.
Gorillas can be identified by their unique nose prints, and like human fingerprints, no two gorilla noses have the same print.
baby gorilla sitting on mom
baby gorilla sitting on mom
Such a dainty fellow
Such a dainty fellow
Very active baby gorilla
Very active baby gorilla
Had to be quick to get a photo!
Had to be quick to get a photo!
Silverback gorilla having a little snack
Silverback gorilla having a little snack
I think he's looking at me.
I think he's looking at me.
Eating the bamboo
Eating the bamboo
Playing with the bamboo
Playing with the bamboo
gorilla eating leaves.
gorilla eating leaves.
Bad light, great action. The silverback gathering a snack.
Bad light, great action. The silverback gathering a snack.
The silverback heading off to find a new spot to eat.
The silverback heading off to find a new spot to eat.
I love this one. Too bad I couldn't pull the eyes out of the shadows.
I love this one. Too bad I couldn't pull the eyes out of the shadows.
The next day and a different group of gorillas.
The next day and a different group of gorillas.
This group was scratching the whole time we watched them.
This group was scratching the whole time we watched them.
looks kind of po'd with his arms crossed over his chest.
looks kind of po'd with his arms crossed over his chest.
Relaxing and scratching
Relaxing and scratching
Silverback at rest.
Silverback at rest.
Reflective gorilla
Reflective gorilla
Cute baby.
Cute baby.
Male gorillas weigh up to 400 lbs and they are mainly vegetarians, eating up to 75 lbs per day of leaves and bamboo shoots.
Male gorillas weigh up to 400 lbs and they are mainly vegetarians, eating up to 75 lbs per day of leaves and bamboo shoots.
Taken as we walked back after trekking.
Taken as we walked back after trekking.
Being a gorilla is tough.  (1/15th of a second at 1600 ISO is tough light.)
Being a gorilla is tough. (1/15th of a second at 1600 ISO is tough light.)
Typical highway scene.  People walking miles and miles up and down the mountains.
Typical highway scene. People walking miles and miles up and down the mountains.
Such a handsome gorilla
Such a handsome gorilla
Silverback gorilla eating the bamboo
Silverback gorilla eating the bamboo
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_MG_99533504 x 2336.jpg
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_MG_99312336 x 3504.jpg
Glad this wasn't a closeup of those teeth.
Glad this wasn't a closeup of those teeth.
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IMG_9411-1.jpg
a little mating going on
a little mating going on
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IMG_9420-1.jpg
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IMG_9441-1.jpg
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