After years of deforestation and poaching, gorilla populations are nearing extinction. It’s estimated that only 786 mountain gorillas remain in the wild. Approximately half of them live in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. I was lucky enough to visit this incredible place recently.
It wasn’t as easy as i thought it would be. Hiking through the impenetrable forest was an unexpected journey battling spiders, snakes, and many other creepy crawlers. After three hours of unbearable heat, we finally got a glimpse of a gorilla family. Our guides had given us a couple of rules—the most important one was to be as silent as possible, and the other one was to stay at least five meters away.
We had an hour to enjoy their company and take photos. Our guide was an adopted member of the family, and is the only person who can visit the gorillas. Communication between the guide and the gorillas was key for their well-being and ours.
I was happy to see the community so engaged with the conservation and protection of the gorillas. The animals are valuable to them in so many ways: Not only because they bring tourism, but also other economic opportunity, such as trackers, guards, guides, and porters. At times it seemed like the whole community was working together for the protection of these majestic animals.