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gorilla documentary - gorillas, 98.6% human

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gorilla documentary - gorillas, 98.6% human (00:22:08)


00:00:05

[Singing]

00:00:20

MR. CRAIG SHOLLEY: Stay where you are. Stay where you are.

00:00:28

[Unintelligible conversation]

00:00:38

MR. SHOLLEY: Two blackbacks, showing off. Just basically teenagers feeling the ropes. All is fine. Gives you an adrenaline rush, though, doesn't it?

00:00:51

CHARLIE: Welcome to Explore. Never stop learning. Mountain gorillas; Rwanda.

00:01:00

[MUSIC]

00:01:27

CHARLIE: How do they identify gorillas?

00:01:29

MR. SHOLLEY: Each and every gorilla has what is called a nose print and a series of indentations above the nostrils are identifying features for each and every gorilla. It's like a fingerprint. And so researchers go out in the forest, they memorize what a nose print looks like.

00:01:44

CHARLIE: Our guide to the mountain gorillas of Rwanda is Craig Sholley, Senior Director of Development for the African Wildlife Foundation.

00:01:53

MR. SHOLLEY: This is like coming home. I look out here, look at the smile on my face. I mean, I lived here for a very, very long time. There's not a more beautiful spot in the world. Better than anything else, I know there are gorillas out there and they're safe and they're sound for the time being, so that's fantastic.

00:02:09

CHARLIE: Craig has been involved with the African Wildlife Foundation in one capacity or another for over 30 years, as he's dedicated himself to the preservation of the vanishing mountain gorilla. Once a thriving population, hunted to near extinction, the mountain gorilla now numbers around 720. The gorilla habitat within Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is home to 350.

00:02:42

CHARLIE: Having started with Diane Fossey in the 1970's during her groundbreaking first contact with the mountain gorilla, Craig has an intimate knowledge of gorilla behavior and the nuances required for human contact.

00:02:55

MR. SHOLLEY: [Whispering]

00:03:03

[MUSIC]

00:03:09

MR. SHOLLEY: On the flip side of these two volcanoes, to the left is Uganda, and then midway on the other side of Sabyinyo is Congo.

00:03:18

MR. SHOLLEY: The Virungas consist of eight volcanoes; the six that basically form the boundary of Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC are the last home of the mountain gorilla. The only other place you find mountain gorillas is in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest which is located about 40 kilometers north of the Virungas.

00:03:35

MR. SHOLLEY: There are two groups in this area: one Umubano and the other Amahoro.

00:03:41

MALE VOICE: [Subtitles] There is Amahoro group and Umubano. Before they were together... The silverback... the one they call Charles, he separated the group. Before, he was number two. Now he decided he gets his own family.

00:03:52

MR. SHOLLEY: Charles has moved up in rank. He's number one.

00:03:54

CHARLIE: Let's go visit my brethren.

00:03:56

MALE VOICE: [Making noises]

00:04:02

MR. SHOLLEY: So this vocalization that Dyogen [phonetic] is using called a belch vocalization and it's a contact vocalization. It allows gorillas to understand where each other are in this dense vegetation. And so by using belch vegetation, people who habituated groups of gorillas developed a rapport with the gorillas and that's why we're able to go in as we're going to.

00:04:28

CHARLIE: All these flowers and plants sting you.

00:04:39

MR. SHOLLEY: That dung is very fresh. I mean, they're literally right here on the slope.

00:04:47

GORILLA: [Grunting]

00:05:00

MR. SHOLLEY: So, we've got a whole family of gorillas here. You can only see three at the moment. But, in the vegetation surrounding these three individuals are an additional six or seven gorillas, well-concealed, but all feeding for the moment.

00:05:23

GORILLA: [Grunting]

00:05:30

MR. SHOLLEY: Ok, this is Charles. He's the dominant male in the group, the silverback. He's probably 14 years old, a very, very, young male who split from another group, the Amahoro group and he brought this part of the family with him. These big males have huge pectorals, immense in size. Watch him tear down the vegetation. This guy probably weighs about 425 pounds. Just an amazing animal. A a silverback is

00:06:02

: nothing more than an adult male. An adult male starts to develop those mature characteristics at about 12 years of age. He develops a big sagittal crest, big pectoral muscles, and then starts to silver around the shoulders. And as he gets older and older, that grey continues down to literally his butt and so he's got this lovely silver saddle.

00:06:29

CHARLIE: You know, it's interesting. We portray the gorilla as such a, like, a savage beast. Like, you think of the movie King Kong. But they're vegetarians.

00:06:39

MR. SHOLLEY: They're totally reliant upon the forest. They eat probably 60 or 70 different species of plants and different portions of different plants. They certainly haven't gone to prey on anything as a large predator would. It's vegetation. And they eat a lot of it per day. A big silverback can eat as much as 70 pounds per day; females probably between 40 and 50 pounds. But they

00:07:03

: don't eat everything. This is a big salad bowl and they can be very selective. See how he's looking around? So, he's trying to figure out what he's going to eat next.

00:07:29

[Singing]

00:07:46

CHARLIE: A blackback is a young male, kind of adolescent. Eventually they mature into silverbacks.

00:07:54

MR. SHOLLEY: This is a beautiful situation. This is exactly what you hope for during your gorilla contact. Everybody kind of hunkered down, resting. Nice family group, large male silverback surrounded by females and their juveniles and infants. It's a beautiful family setting, just fantastic. We've got them doing their siesta. So everybody's sitting still and all this wonderful interaction, all this animation within the group. Look at them playing.

00:08:23

CHARLIE: What do you think every time you look at a gorilla's hands?

00:08:28

MR. SHOLLEY: Well, I think all you have to do is look at the features of a gorilla and you see an awful lot of human characteristics. Genetically, we're 98.67% the same as most great apes. And so, a very, very strong link between humans and our great ape cousins. Their eyesight is very similar to yours and mine. Their hearing and their sense of smell is very, very much the same. And then,

00:08:53

: certainly, if you take a look at the social interactions that occur between individuals and a group, it's basically a lot of human behavior, or a lot of gorilla behavior that we've adapted. And, so, looking into the eyes of a gorilla, certainly you see a lot of you staring back at you.

00:09:09

CHARLIE: What do you think that people can learn from apes?

00:09:11

MR. SHOLLEY: Well, take a look at the peaceful nature of gorillas. Gorillas very, very rarely are aggressive. And then if they are aggressive, they settle things very, very quickly and go back to this peaceful lifestyle. The mellow nature of the silverback, that largely makes for the success of the gorilla family. This guy looks like a big mellow guy who's very comfortable with everybody around him but capable of moving into action if, in fact, he has to.

00:09:37

CHARLIE: Do they have a history of attacking people? I mean, we're right here. I mean, like, physically killing people.

00:09:42

MR. SHOLLEY: No. There's no documentation of gorillas killing people. Gorillas are big, powerful animals, and if they feel threatened, they can be quite dangerous. But, if one abides by an appropriate gorilla etiquette that we are now very familiar with, you're able to come out and enjoy being with a gorilla group in close proximity just like we're doing right now.

00:10:05

[Singing]

00:10:07

MR. SHOLLEY: When the first explorers found gorillas on the coasts of West Africa, they found them as a terrifying beast and, indeed, gorillas can be pretty terrifying. They're big, they're strong, and they certainly look like they can tear a man limb from limb. But we've learned that gorillas are nothing more than gentle giants. They live a very, very tranquil existence and their family life is something that we ought to look at and learn from.

00:10:43

[Music]

00:10:57

CHARLIE: 39 gorillas, 4 silverbacks. This is a no-joke deal. Geez, look at them in the tree. They're everywhere. There are these huge gorillas everywhere, and the baby.

00:11:24

CHARLIE: Craig, there's a lot of gorillas here.

00:11:26

MR. SHOLLEY: Thirty-nine gorillas. This is as good as it gets. This is absolutely fantastic. We've got four silverbacks in this group. And as you can see, you've got a silverback playing with one of the youngsters over here, very, very gently. Now, look at that up on the hill. Is that fantastic?

00:11:54

: Truly majestic, aren't they? Very, very handsome.

00:11:59

CHARLIE: I know this is kind of a morbid question, but do gorillas--How do they handle death within the family?

00:12:06

MR. SHOLLEY: You know, I've seen several different reactions. I've seen gorillas pay no attention whatsoever to death, and then on the other hand, the death of a silverback--Actually the death of the silverback in this group many, many years ago, a silverback called Mbaraga [phonetic], it was a very, very poignant scene where his body lay in an open space, and literally every member of the group came up

00:12:27

: and, to a degree, paid allegiance: touched him or chest beat around him. Ultimately, an older son actually laid head to head with him. So, I've seen the full range of behaviors.

00:12:43

MR. SHOLLEY: He's chest beating, showing off. You know, it's a way to get rid of that anxiety.

00:12:51

CHARLIE: It's truly scary when a gorilla beats its chest and charges at you. They say they're playing, but...

00:12:58

MR. SHOLLEY: And they're displaying at each other; they're not displaying at us. It's known as a "pok pok" [phonetic] and, from a distance, it really doesn't sound as you would suspect a chest beat would.

00:13:11

CH1: What does that chest beat signify, do you think? Just playful?

00:13:14

MR. SHOLLEY: They're probably playing with each other, but, at the same time, they're attempting to stay in contact with the group. To be in

00:13:28

: a group that is a multi-silverback group and to have four silverbacks right in front of you... I mean, many times they're spread out. They're dispersed throughout the group. Some are ahead, some are behind. But to have three of them right here in front of us is just magnificent. To have a fourth chest-beating down here over the hill, this big guy is

00:13:46

: basically the boss. And he's basically trying to impress everybody else. He smelled that odor. That odor is something known as a silverback odor. They exude that B.O. type fragrance that allows members of the group to know where they are at all times. And it also indicates that they're excited, and so, very, very typical of what you'll find when you've got a lot of silverbacks in the group.

00:14:18

: That's a female pig grunting at another female who doesn't want her to come closer to her and/or the silverbacks. So, the one female moved from another place and basically invaded her space.

00:14:31

[Gorillas Grunting]

00:14:38

MR. SHOLLEY: See how the silverback immediately went over and reprimanded the female who was starting the squabble?

00:14:41

CHARLIE: So, everyone listens to the silverback.

00:14:43

MR. SHOLLEY: Everybody listens to the silverback, absolutely. Take a look at his size. You'd listen to him, wouldn't you, Charlie?

00:14:51

CHARLIE: Well, it's amazing. It's so exciting, but when they cross you, you feel their strength.

00:14:55

MR. SHOLLEY: This is an incredibly powerful animal. A silverback is probably as powerful as 8 to 10 men. Ok. I put these guys in order and now I'm going to go back to the rest of the group. As soon as he moves, the kids follow immediately.

00:15:32

[Singing]

00:15:56

CHARLIE: There's a gorilla right over this wall. And what's so fascinating is this wall is what separates the farming from the park, but the gorillas who've discovered the eucalyptus tree are hopping over the wall now and feeding on the trees. But this is what kind of stops you might say civilization, community, farming, the gorillas. As

00:16:20

: we know, in all our Explore journeys, that's one of the biggest issues: progression, population, environmental protection.

00:16:27

MR. SHOLLEY: The gorillas have been feeding on this eucalyptus. They like the gum and do occasionally come outside the park, cross the wall, and feed on the eucalyptus. But now it appears as if they've gone back into the forest and so we'll head off following them.

00:16:45

CHARLIE: [Grunting] I'm starting to get my confidence up. [Grunting]

00:16:53

MR. SHOLLEY: Today, the guy that we're going to meet, Gahunda [phonetic], is an animal that I knew when he was a teenager. He was riotous in the group, just wild and crazy, and now he's grown up to be probably the largest silverback in the forest and he's in charge of this

00:17:09

: family. He's changed magnificently. He's a big boy right now. His head is just huge; really, really special.

00:17:20

CHARLIE: Gahunda's about 350, 400 pounds?

00:17:23

MR. SHOLLEY: As the biggest gorilla in the forest, he's probably at 450, if not more.

00:17:26

CHARLIE: So, he might be the biggest gorilla in the world?

00:17:30

MR. SHOLLEY: Well, you know, certainly he has a reputation for being the biggest gorilla in this region. Everybody likes to claim that he's the biggest and nobody's seen any bigger. Certainly, there could be gorillas out there that are bigger. But, for the time being, he's got the reputation of being, kind of the big guy of the forest.

00:17:48

MR. SHOLLEY: This group in particular is a group that has 3 or 4 gorillas in it that I've known for probably 20, 30 years. 35, 45 years is probably the life span of a gorilla. And so it's very special to come back and see an adult female in particular. Kapunga [phonetic], who has a baby, she was a juvenile when I knew her many, many years ago and now she's an adult female with an infant of her own.

00:18:16

CHARLIE: Look at the eye contact between the mother and the child. I mean, they're just staring at each other. It's no different than humans. Look at that, she's like this. She's holding her baby and starting at it with so much love in her eye. I mean, she's just cradling it and holding it.

00:18:38

MR. SHOLLEY: And each new baby means that the survival of the gorillas is hopefully ensured for the future. And so gorilla birth is a great thing. And when you've got mothers like Kapunga who are taking care of their babies like she is, that's a good sign for the future.

00:18:55

MR. SHOLLEY: The really, really wonderful news is that the mountain gorilla population in this area continues to rise. So, they're giving it their all in terms of protection. There's no room for complacency whatsoever, but given the efforts that are presently underway, the mountain gorilla habitat is being protected and, in turn, the mountain gorilla population is growing.

00:19:15

[Music]

00:19:17

MR. SHOLLEY: For someone who's never, ever been to Africa, or has been to Africa but never to Rwanda, to be able to come into the forest and within an hour and a half, be in the midst of a family of gorillas, you know, this is fantastic. And, effectively, the gorillas are giving up an hour of their day and they're paying their way in Rwanda. And,

00:19:40

: hopefully, that will ensure that the forests and the gorillas are perpetuated way, way, way into the future. It's part of the strategy of the International Gorilla Conservation Program, the Rwanda National Park Service, and the African Wildlife Foundation.

00:19:54

CHARLIE: One of the biggest challenges that the African Wildlife Foundation faces is getting the people from the local community to experience the gorillas. Many Rwandans may not have the means to afford a visit, but these people and their emotional connection to the gorillas are necessary to sustain and protect the gorilla population. It's

00:20:17

: important for people to come out here because they're the true protectors of these gorillas. This is their country. If they don't love the gorilla, there's no hope. But I do think it would be great to create a little program where the top high school students here in Rwanda who don't have the opportunity to go visit these animals could go out there and maybe spend a day with them. Because without that connection, it's not as significant.

00:20:47

CHARLIE: It's almost ironic that I would re-find humanity in the jungles of Rwanda, through the gorilla. But through this interaction with these magnificent creatures, I rediscovered myself. I've rediscovered my own humanity through the gorilla.

00:21:07

[Music]

[END OF RECORDING]

  • grant: $100,000 - African Wildlife Foundation

    To work with the people of Africa to ensure the wildlife and wild lands of Africa will endure forever by providing wildlife management training opportunities for African nationals. To also support the Manyara Ranch School, Tanzania and Mountain Gorilla Experience for Rwandan Students. Grants between 2006-2011.

  • topic: gorillas

  • location: volcanoes national park

Info POP Screen

gorilla documentary - gorillas, 98.6% human


00:00:05

[Singing]

00:00:20

MR. CRAIG SHOLLEY: Stay where you are. Stay where you are.

00:00:28

[Unintelligible conversation]

00:00:38

MR. SHOLLEY: Two blackbacks, showing off. Just basically teenagers feeling the ropes. All is fine. Gives you an adrenaline rush, though, doesn't it?

00:00:51

CHARLIE: Welcome to Explore. Never stop learning. Mountain gorillas; Rwanda.

00:01:00

[MUSIC]

00:01:27

CHARLIE: How do they identify gorillas?

00:01:29

MR. SHOLLEY: Each and every gorilla has what is called a nose print and a series of indentations above the nostrils are identifying features for each and every gorilla. It's like a fingerprint. And so researchers go out in the forest, they memorize what a nose print looks like.

00:01:44

CHARLIE: Our guide to the mountain gorillas of Rwanda is Craig Sholley, Senior Director of Development for the African Wildlife Foundation.

00:01:53

MR. SHOLLEY: This is like coming home. I look out here, look at the smile on my face. I mean, I lived here for a very, very long time. There's not a more beautiful spot in the world. Better than anything else, I know there are gorillas out there and they're safe and they're sound for the time being, so that's fantastic.

00:02:09

CHARLIE: Craig has been involved with the African Wildlife Foundation in one capacity or another for over 30 years, as he's dedicated himself to the preservation of the vanishing mountain gorilla. Once a thriving population, hunted to near extinction, the mountain gorilla now numbers around 720. The gorilla habitat within Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is home to 350.

00:02:42

CHARLIE: Having started with Diane Fossey in the 1970's during her groundbreaking first contact with the mountain gorilla, Craig has an intimate knowledge of gorilla behavior and the nuances required for human contact.

00:02:55

MR. SHOLLEY: [Whispering]

00:03:03

[MUSIC]

00:03:09

MR. SHOLLEY: On the flip side of these two volcanoes, to the left is Uganda, and then midway on the other side of Sabyinyo is Congo.

00:03:18

MR. SHOLLEY: The Virungas consist of eight volcanoes; the six that basically form the boundary of Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC are the last home of the mountain gorilla. The only other place you find mountain gorillas is in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest which is located about 40 kilometers north of the Virungas.

00:03:35

MR. SHOLLEY: There are two groups in this area: one Umubano and the other Amahoro.

00:03:41

MALE VOICE: [Subtitles] There is Amahoro group and Umubano. Before they were together... The silverback... the one they call Charles, he separated the group. Before, he was number two. Now he decided he gets his own family.

00:03:52

MR. SHOLLEY: Charles has moved up in rank. He's number one.

00:03:54

CHARLIE: Let's go visit my brethren.

00:03:56

MALE VOICE: [Making noises]

00:04:02

MR. SHOLLEY: So this vocalization that Dyogen [phonetic] is using called a belch vocalization and it's a contact vocalization. It allows gorillas to understand where each other are in this dense vegetation. And so by using belch vegetation, people who habituated groups of gorillas developed a rapport with the gorillas and that's why we're able to go in as we're going to.

00:04:28

CHARLIE: All these flowers and plants sting you.

00:04:39

MR. SHOLLEY: That dung is very fresh. I mean, they're literally right here on the slope.

00:04:47

GORILLA: [Grunting]

00:05:00

MR. SHOLLEY: So, we've got a whole family of gorillas here. You can only see three at the moment. But, in the vegetation surrounding these three individuals are an additional six or seven gorillas, well-concealed, but all feeding for the moment.

00:05:23

GORILLA: [Grunting]

00:05:30

MR. SHOLLEY: Ok, this is Charles. He's the dominant male in the group, the silverback. He's probably 14 years old, a very, very, young male who split from another group, the Amahoro group and he brought this part of the family with him. These big males have huge pectorals, immense in size. Watch him tear down the vegetation. This guy probably weighs about 425 pounds. Just an amazing animal. A a silverback is

00:06:02

: nothing more than an adult male. An adult male starts to develop those mature characteristics at about 12 years of age. He develops a big sagittal crest, big pectoral muscles, and then starts to silver around the shoulders. And as he gets older and older, that grey continues down to literally his butt and so he's got this lovely silver saddle.

00:06:29

CHARLIE: You know, it's interesting. We portray the gorilla as such a, like, a savage beast. Like, you think of the movie King Kong. But they're vegetarians.

00:06:39

MR. SHOLLEY: They're totally reliant upon the forest. They eat probably 60 or 70 different species of plants and different portions of different plants. They certainly haven't gone to prey on anything as a large predator would. It's vegetation. And they eat a lot of it per day. A big silverback can eat as much as 70 pounds per day; females probably between 40 and 50 pounds. But they

00:07:03

: don't eat everything. This is a big salad bowl and they can be very selective. See how he's looking around? So, he's trying to figure out what he's going to eat next.

00:07:29

[Singing]

00:07:46

CHARLIE: A blackback is a young male, kind of adolescent. Eventually they mature into silverbacks.

00:07:54

MR. SHOLLEY: This is a beautiful situation. This is exactly what you hope for during your gorilla contact. Everybody kind of hunkered down, resting. Nice family group, large male silverback surrounded by females and their juveniles and infants. It's a beautiful family setting, just fantastic. We've got them doing their siesta. So everybody's sitting still and all this wonderful interaction, all this animation within the group. Look at them playing.

00:08:23

CHARLIE: What do you think every time you look at a gorilla's hands?

00:08:28

MR. SHOLLEY: Well, I think all you have to do is look at the features of a gorilla and you see an awful lot of human characteristics. Genetically, we're 98.67% the same as most great apes. And so, a very, very strong link between humans and our great ape cousins. Their eyesight is very similar to yours and mine. Their hearing and their sense of smell is very, very much the same. And then,

00:08:53

: certainly, if you take a look at the social interactions that occur between individuals and a group, it's basically a lot of human behavior, or a lot of gorilla behavior that we've adapted. And, so, looking into the eyes of a gorilla, certainly you see a lot of you staring back at you.

00:09:09

CHARLIE: What do you think that people can learn from apes?

00:09:11

MR. SHOLLEY: Well, take a look at the peaceful nature of gorillas. Gorillas very, very rarely are aggressive. And then if they are aggressive, they settle things very, very quickly and go back to this peaceful lifestyle. The mellow nature of the silverback, that largely makes for the success of the gorilla family. This guy looks like a big mellow guy who's very comfortable with everybody around him but capable of moving into action if, in fact, he has to.

00:09:37

CHARLIE: Do they have a history of attacking people? I mean, we're right here. I mean, like, physically killing people.

00:09:42

MR. SHOLLEY: No. There's no documentation of gorillas killing people. Gorillas are big, powerful animals, and if they feel threatened, they can be quite dangerous. But, if one abides by an appropriate gorilla etiquette that we are now very familiar with, you're able to come out and enjoy being with a gorilla group in close proximity just like we're doing right now.

00:10:05

[Singing]

00:10:07

MR. SHOLLEY: When the first explorers found gorillas on the coasts of West Africa, they found them as a terrifying beast and, indeed, gorillas can be pretty terrifying. They're big, they're strong, and they certainly look like they can tear a man limb from limb. But we've learned that gorillas are nothing more than gentle giants. They live a very, very tranquil existence and their family life is something that we ought to look at and learn from.

00:10:43

[Music]

00:10:57

CHARLIE: 39 gorillas, 4 silverbacks. This is a no-joke deal. Geez, look at them in the tree. They're everywhere. There are these huge gorillas everywhere, and the baby.

00:11:24

CHARLIE: Craig, there's a lot of gorillas here.

00:11:26

MR. SHOLLEY: Thirty-nine gorillas. This is as good as it gets. This is absolutely fantastic. We've got four silverbacks in this group. And as you can see, you've got a silverback playing with one of the youngsters over here, very, very gently. Now, look at that up on the hill. Is that fantastic?

00:11:54

: Truly majestic, aren't they? Very, very handsome.

00:11:59

CHARLIE: I know this is kind of a morbid question, but do gorillas--How do they handle death within the family?

00:12:06

MR. SHOLLEY: You know, I've seen several different reactions. I've seen gorillas pay no attention whatsoever to death, and then on the other hand, the death of a silverback--Actually the death of the silverback in this group many, many years ago, a silverback called Mbaraga [phonetic], it was a very, very poignant scene where his body lay in an open space, and literally every member of the group came up

00:12:27

: and, to a degree, paid allegiance: touched him or chest beat around him. Ultimately, an older son actually laid head to head with him. So, I've seen the full range of behaviors.

00:12:43

MR. SHOLLEY: He's chest beating, showing off. You know, it's a way to get rid of that anxiety.

00:12:51

CHARLIE: It's truly scary when a gorilla beats its chest and charges at you. They say they're playing, but...

00:12:58

MR. SHOLLEY: And they're displaying at each other; they're not displaying at us. It's known as a "pok pok" [phonetic] and, from a distance, it really doesn't sound as you would suspect a chest beat would.

00:13:11

CH1: What does that chest beat signify, do you think? Just playful?

00:13:14

MR. SHOLLEY: They're probably playing with each other, but, at the same time, they're attempting to stay in contact with the group. To be in

00:13:28

: a group that is a multi-silverback group and to have four silverbacks right in front of you... I mean, many times they're spread out. They're dispersed throughout the group. Some are ahead, some are behind. But to have three of them right here in front of us is just magnificent. To have a fourth chest-beating down here over the hill, this big guy is

00:13:46

: basically the boss. And he's basically trying to impress everybody else. He smelled that odor. That odor is something known as a silverback odor. They exude that B.O. type fragrance that allows members of the group to know where they are at all times. And it also indicates that they're excited, and so, very, very typical of what you'll find when you've got a lot of silverbacks in the group.

00:14:18

: That's a female pig grunting at another female who doesn't want her to come closer to her and/or the silverbacks. So, the one female moved from another place and basically invaded her space.

00:14:31

[Gorillas Grunting]

00:14:38

MR. SHOLLEY: See how the silverback immediately went over and reprimanded the female who was starting the squabble?

00:14:41

CHARLIE: So, everyone listens to the silverback.

00:14:43

MR. SHOLLEY: Everybody listens to the silverback, absolutely. Take a look at his size. You'd listen to him, wouldn't you, Charlie?

00:14:51

CHARLIE: Well, it's amazing. It's so exciting, but when they cross you, you feel their strength.

00:14:55

MR. SHOLLEY: This is an incredibly powerful animal. A silverback is probably as powerful as 8 to 10 men. Ok. I put these guys in order and now I'm going to go back to the rest of the group. As soon as he moves, the kids follow immediately.

00:15:32

[Singing]

00:15:56

CHARLIE: There's a gorilla right over this wall. And what's so fascinating is this wall is what separates the farming from the park, but the gorillas who've discovered the eucalyptus tree are hopping over the wall now and feeding on the trees. But this is what kind of stops you might say civilization, community, farming, the gorillas. As

00:16:20

: we know, in all our Explore journeys, that's one of the biggest issues: progression, population, environmental protection.

00:16:27

MR. SHOLLEY: The gorillas have been feeding on this eucalyptus. They like the gum and do occasionally come outside the park, cross the wall, and feed on the eucalyptus. But now it appears as if they've gone back into the forest and so we'll head off following them.

00:16:45

CHARLIE: [Grunting] I'm starting to get my confidence up. [Grunting]

00:16:53

MR. SHOLLEY: Today, the guy that we're going to meet, Gahunda [phonetic], is an animal that I knew when he was a teenager. He was riotous in the group, just wild and crazy, and now he's grown up to be probably the largest silverback in the forest and he's in charge of this

00:17:09

: family. He's changed magnificently. He's a big boy right now. His head is just huge; really, really special.

00:17:20

CHARLIE: Gahunda's about 350, 400 pounds?

00:17:23

MR. SHOLLEY: As the biggest gorilla in the forest, he's probably at 450, if not more.

00:17:26

CHARLIE: So, he might be the biggest gorilla in the world?

00:17:30

MR. SHOLLEY: Well, you know, certainly he has a reputation for being the biggest gorilla in this region. Everybody likes to claim that he's the biggest and nobody's seen any bigger. Certainly, there could be gorillas out there that are bigger. But, for the time being, he's got the reputation of being, kind of the big guy of the forest.

00:17:48

MR. SHOLLEY: This group in particular is a group that has 3 or 4 gorillas in it that I've known for probably 20, 30 years. 35, 45 years is probably the life span of a gorilla. And so it's very special to come back and see an adult female in particular. Kapunga [phonetic], who has a baby, she was a juvenile when I knew her many, many years ago and now she's an adult female with an infant of her own.

00:18:16

CHARLIE: Look at the eye contact between the mother and the child. I mean, they're just staring at each other. It's no different than humans. Look at that, she's like this. She's holding her baby and starting at it with so much love in her eye. I mean, she's just cradling it and holding it.

00:18:38

MR. SHOLLEY: And each new baby means that the survival of the gorillas is hopefully ensured for the future. And so gorilla birth is a great thing. And when you've got mothers like Kapunga who are taking care of their babies like she is, that's a good sign for the future.

00:18:55

MR. SHOLLEY: The really, really wonderful news is that the mountain gorilla population in this area continues to rise. So, they're giving it their all in terms of protection. There's no room for complacency whatsoever, but given the efforts that are presently underway, the mountain gorilla habitat is being protected and, in turn, the mountain gorilla population is growing.

00:19:15

[Music]

00:19:17

MR. SHOLLEY: For someone who's never, ever been to Africa, or has been to Africa but never to Rwanda, to be able to come into the forest and within an hour and a half, be in the midst of a family of gorillas, you know, this is fantastic. And, effectively, the gorillas are giving up an hour of their day and they're paying their way in Rwanda. And,

00:19:40

: hopefully, that will ensure that the forests and the gorillas are perpetuated way, way, way into the future. It's part of the strategy of the International Gorilla Conservation Program, the Rwanda National Park Service, and the African Wildlife Foundation.

00:19:54

CHARLIE: One of the biggest challenges that the African Wildlife Foundation faces is getting the people from the local community to experience the gorillas. Many Rwandans may not have the means to afford a visit, but these people and their emotional connection to the gorillas are necessary to sustain and protect the gorilla population. It's

00:20:17

: important for people to come out here because they're the true protectors of these gorillas. This is their country. If they don't love the gorilla, there's no hope. But I do think it would be great to create a little program where the top high school students here in Rwanda who don't have the opportunity to go visit these animals could go out there and maybe spend a day with them. Because without that connection, it's not as significant.

00:20:47

CHARLIE: It's almost ironic that I would re-find humanity in the jungles of Rwanda, through the gorilla. But through this interaction with these magnificent creatures, I rediscovered myself. I've rediscovered my own humanity through the gorilla.

00:21:07

[Music]

[END OF RECORDING]

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