ON LOCATION: THE MT. GORILLAS OF RWANDA
Tracking and photographing the Mt. Gorillas of Rwanda, Africa inside the Volcano National Park rainforest was a quest.They are among the most critically endangered species in the world, numbering approximately 832 depending on deaths by poachers, infections, and disease.
I traveled light with a waterproof, soft camera and video case with towels to cushion the video cam and lenses from wide angle to 70-300mm and also wipe off the rain from photo and video equipment.
As advised, I hired an invaluable, personal guide to help and guide me up and down the slippery, rain soaked jungle floor and rushing, vine-covered streams. He also accompanied the professional tracker to locate the Mt. Gorillas from a 4,000 to 8,000 ft. climb.
Rain jacket with hood was a must. High boots to navigate through the mud. A rain sleeve and ziplock plastic bags to protect the cameras, lenses and SD cards in the downpours.
Over two days, I was only allowed one hour, per day to photograph in their natural habitat which is the rule. In the wild, you are instructed to move slowly, make minimal noise, and the lighter you travel the better which means no tripod or electronic flash permitted.
The jungle floor, or a tree became my natural tripod to steady the still or moving images in sometimes bleak light beneath the overhead thick rainforest.
When a Silverback, or infant and adolescent Mt. Gorilla advances toward you, do not move, don’t panic, breathe slowly, and bow your head humbly. Avoid eye contact close up.
If they touch you, do not touch them. They are wild even though we share 98 percent of their DNA. My personal encounter and documenting their behavior in the wild is one of the most mystical, pivotal experiences of my life in making people more aware of their fight against extinction.