THE ADDRESS Magazine Summer 2014 - Page 370

scales the heights of Bisoke in the Volcanoes National Park, sharing borders with Uganda and DR Congo. The Silverback gorilla I’m hoping to meet has reportedly taken wives from each country. He’s known as Agashya, the special one. We’re being led by a group of trackers who dedicate their lives to the forest, tracing particular families or ‘troops’ of gorillas. Visions in my mind of this 230kg human-like creature propel me forward, up 3-foot grooves and down 5-foot plunges, on my backside (the safest way.) It’s hardly graceful but then nor are the animals we’re about to encounter. After a 2-hour hike, we notice a rumble in the jungle. My first sighting of a Silverback mountain gorilla comes unexpectedly. A loud resounding fart from the head of the group, Agashya himself, is in my direction as I’m stood behind him. Unfortunately, I become acquainted with his backside first. Clearly visible is a wave of silver-grey hair, running the length of his back, giving him the title ‘Silverback.’ He’s the head of the troop. Maintaining a 7-metre distance, I follow the guide round to face Agashya. He glares at me, analysing. As his eyes meet mine, I’m lulled into another world. Huge gentle auburn globes pierce through my retina as I sense his curiosity and inquisitiveness. I feel compelled to lower myself to the ground to show 370 him respect and maintain his authority. He is a gentle giant. Surrounding him, a pair of juvenile males is fighting and wrestling. Unfolding scenes are surreal as the giant fur-balls roll around, put each other in chokeholds and show incredibly human expressions of pain, fear and anger. They come very close and one grabs my leg as he tries to escape the other. He has a powerful grip and our guide makes a deep ‘eh eh eh’ sound. Inevitably, we all pick up gorilla language and, remarkably, it works! ‘Mum’ spoken in a full-bodied slow motion also lets them know of our presence. Deeper into the forest, a group of females lolls lazily in the sunshine. Protected by nature’s embrace and partially obstructed from view, the guide finds a natural way for us to gain a good vantage point, whilst observing distances for safety. An astute female takes the opportunity to play up to the camera for attention, before quickly tiring of it and then ignoring us. In some shrubbery, I spot a female, nestling an 8-month-old baby gorilla on her lap. The baby takes a short walk on all 4 limbs; the arms almost twice the length of the legs. An electrocuted mess of hair frames the cutest face. Above, behind and almost immediately next to me, more waves of motion within tall grass, where suddenly a few more roll