A Gorilla encounter

We have just returned from an amazing expedition to Odzala – Kokoua National Park in the Republic of the Congo (aka Congo-Brazzaville not the Congo where Virunga is). Before I get into downloading, editing and combining images and videos and posting about what an experience this was and how our adventure unfolded, I wanted to share something real, something unedited, something that will as much as possible reflect what was happening in a particular moment in time.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about what seeing gorillas for the first time meant to me. I have never been particularly attracted to primates (blame it on looking after baboons for a while) so I was curious to see how I would feel when faced with one of them.

For the first few glances through the thick Marantaceae leaves my feelings were mostly unchanged.. I was there for the rainforest, gorillas, I thought would just be a bonus… that was until I saw the scene below unfold… It is by far not the best video, scene or capture but some moments are better kept raw.

As I was filming through my trusted D600 it all suddenly dawned on me: the movements, the attitude, the physiology, all these characteristics were just too shocking, too familiar.. too alike. Having been lucky to explore the wilds of Africa and observe quite a range of species in their natural environment, feeling such sense of closeness to another animal species was.. unexpected, intimate, powerful, humbling;  it instilled in me a sense more than ever that we are not alone in this world, nor does it belong to us only. This realisation struck me to the core, as it deepened even more my understanding that coexistence is nature’s most beautiful and most difficult gift; this planet doesn’t belong to one, but to us all. When you feel this, your life will forever be changed.

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