Time check 8:30 am, accompanied by three UWA rangers and two other tourists, we started our journey into the beautiful impenetrable forest. Down the slope, across the make shift bridge and up the mountain we went. Although it got steep and tougher as we hiked, the fresh morning breeze, the chirping of the birds, the soft wind from the trees, the cool and calm sound of water from the stream and the beautiful vegetation- short green thick shrubs growing gracefully under the high tall trees (that have formed a fascinating canopy), tree branches magically climbing and entangling around each other, and, the sweet bright sun rays cutting through the canopy made our trekking a fascinating experience!
At about 1840 altitude we met the great gorilla group, Rushegura. Rushegura is made up of 14 individuals, and is headed by the dominant silverback Kabukojo. According to our team lead Rita Namatovu, Kabukojo took over the group’s leadership at the young age of 13. “He was still a blackback, but duty was calling, and over time Kabukojo has proven to be an excellent group leader,” Rita told us.
Exciting to know about Rushegura is that it has the newest baby which is two weeks old! Born to Kibande mid-January 2016, the baby’s sex has not yet been determined nor the baby given a name yet; this because the mother is still so protective of the little one, but luckily for us, she was so welcoming and calm. Kibande allowed us the privilege to see her baby! Oh how cute the baby is, resting on its mother’s chest without a care, the little one looked amazing and blessed.
“Seeing Kibande and her little baby totally warmed my heart and filled it with love, I’ve never encountered such a scene before, it is a privilege” said Joakim Odelberg, a conservation photographer and filmmaker currently building IGCP’s capacity in photography.
Kibande and her two weeks old baby. Photo by, Joakim Odelberg
Rita also revealed that the group has another baby- four months old, the baby is a son to the adult female Munyana. Jumping from one tree to another, chasing after each other, chewing at a few plants and sleeping were some of the marvelous activities that the gorillas were engaged in when we met them. At some point the gorillas would come out of their hide outs to greet us with long stares and deep sounds and then go back to their routine.
After an hour of gorilla viewing and photo shoot we walked back to our destinations feeling tired but happy and rewarded. The experience we had with Rushegura will forever remain alive in our hearts. God bless the mountain gorillas, the beautiful Impenetrable Bwindi forest and its dedicated and patient staff. It is an unforgettable experience that inspires all of us to do whatever we can to protect them for many generations to come.