Up close with our cousins

2 weeks ago I went on a journey back to Africa. But this time not to Kenya. We flew from Germany directly to Entebbe, Uganda. From there we drove all the way to the famous Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This is the place which one of the most endangered animals of our planet calls home, the Mountain Gorilla. The first tracking started at 7 am. We had a short briefing with some rangers and then left right into the Jungle. There are no trails so the guides cut through the bushes with machetes. The mountain gorillas are named that for a reason, they live upon incredibly high mountains. So getting there was not only difficult because of the thick jungle, but also becauseof the elevation gain. The first day we climbed about 300 meters in altitude the second we climbed 450 meters in just 1 1/2 hours. It was definitely the most exhausting thing I have ever done in my life. But so worth it.

We started hearing the gorillas communicating from the distance. We made our way closer to them until I got my first glimpse at the huge silverback of the family. It was a group of 9 gorillas. One silverback, four females and all for females had a baby around the same age. Seeing how they interacted and communicated with each other was amazing. They were so incredibly human. We share about 96% of our DNA with them! The little ones were incredibly curious and came closer to check us out.

It was by far the most magical experience of my life!

picture by author

A Story of Glass, a Family, and Murder

“Mom,” said a little boy startled. “They’re back again.”

“I know honey,” she replied.

“Mom,” said a little boy startled. “They’re watching us again.”

“I know honey,” she replied.

“I’m scared,” said the little boy. “I don’t want to be here mama”

“Someday baby, someday we’ll get out of here. Your father will come for us.”

And so they waited, and waited, and waited some more. But he never came and he never would.

Years went by. The boy was no longer little, the mother was no longer strong, and both of them were no longer hopeful.

“Mom,” said a no longer little boy, “we can’t wait any longer, we need to get out of here.”

“No,” she said, “it’s too dangerous. Your father will come for us.”

But the no longer little boy watched his mom’s once shiny black hair turn to grey and he knew that he could wait for his father no longer.

That day, while his mother lay quietly in the grass resting her tired eyes, he grabbed a rock and walked to the glass.

Bang.

Children began to scream.

Bang.

Parents grabbed their kin and began to run away.

Bang.

The mother of the no longer little boy ran after her son but it was too late.

Bang.

Three guards rushed toward the scene.

Bang.

The glass finally began to break.

Bang…

A bullet went through the no longer little boy’s chest.

Bang…

A bullet went through the mother’s chest as she ran towards where her son’s body lay.

Two weeks later the glass was fixed, the zookeepers removed all movable rocks, and two new gorillas filled the place of the deceased mother and son.

Photo credit: cincinnatizoo.org