We Were Ready for a Gorilla Battle

Article from the series: Attractions of Rwanda, western Uganda and eastern DR Congo

Members of the Gorilla Highlands Experts global community, something special happened in Uganda’s Bwindi today! Something that I really need to share with you …

I have been a ranger for 12 years, taking visitors to gorillas in both Bwindi and Mgahinga national parks — and yet I had never seen anything like that! You know, gorilla families are not particularly friendly to each other. They have their own range, and when they meet their silverbacks make noise, attempting to prove their dominance.

But this morning the Habyinyanya group of 12 individuals and the Muyambi group of 10 gorillas met in the open, at a truly beautiful spot, and interacted peacefully. They were just meeting and greeting each other for 40 minutes! We were all perplexed, the tourists and the rangers, and spent an hour in awe.

Eight guests had been tracking Habyinyanja and two were with Muyambi when the three silverbacks (Habyinanja has two of them) brought us all to the same spot. When we left, they were still socialising — who knows maybe they are now spending the night together!

Honestly, this is one of the best experiences I have had working with gorillas! The setting made it additionally unique. Bwindi is not called “impenetrable” for nothing, it is quite normal to observe our hairy relatives deep in the bush, so to get them all in the sun was just beautiful.

… I was so excited to share the news that I reached out to Miha in Rwanda, and started bombarding him with photos and videos. It’s my first story for Gorilla Highlands Experts, but those who were participating at the Live Q&A about gorilla tracking in June already met me. I am simply your man in Bwindi, my country’s prime mountain gorilla destination.

My family is from eastern Uganda, Japadhoras by tribe. I studied at the Hotel and Tourism Training Institute in Jinja when a career in Uganda Wildlife Authority captured my attention. In 2009 I joined the ranger force, and my life became really adventurous and interesting. I was first sent to Mgahinga for about 11 years — you can read my colleague Turinawe’s personal story to see how it is to be posted at one of the remotest national parks — and then last year they transferred me to Bwindi. I was initially very busy at the Buhoma headquarters doing office stuff, that’s why I didn’t send any dispatches, but now I am again in nature most of the time. I prefer it this way.

The one thing I don’t like is that I am away from my wife and four children who live in our capital, Kampala. I see them only every other month … Who knows, maybe my kids will be proud to read this story from their Daddy?