Ellen's Journal

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Entry No. 2, Bisate, Rwanda

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Hi there. Me again. I’m having an incredible time in Rwanda and still can’t believe I’m actually here.

We went back into the forest to see more gorillas, and forgive me if I say “incredible” too many times, but it was incredible.

 
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Fun fact about gorillas – they live in families just like humans. So far I’ve gotten to visit two different gorilla families. And the great thing about visiting gorilla families is that they never ask you inappropriate questions about your love life or serve you lukewarm corn casserole that you have to pretend to like.

Another fun fact – mountain gorillas live in the mountains. Who knew?! During our first climb up the mountain, the first gorilla family we visited was eating. Mountain gorillas eat about 60 pounds of food a day, all leafy green plants. It’s as if they sit in a giant salad bowl and eat their way out of it. I wish I ate more salad, but it’s hard because pizza is so delicious.

 
 

The oldest male gorilla here, Guhonda, is 47 years old. Even though he has transferred power of his gorilla family to one of his sons, he still has an important position of authority. At one point he came out of the bushes and gave a few grunts to a younger male in the group. I think it either meant “Hey, don’t forget who’s boss” or “Is that Ellen?!” in gorilla language.

The average mountain gorilla family has 10 members, but on our second climb we visited a family with 23 members. 23! That’s a big family, even by gorilla standards. I don’t think they’re interested in TV, but they’d make for a great Duggars-style reality show on TLC.

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I’m proud to partner with the Dian Fossey Fund because, along with the government of Rwanda, they are helping the gorilla population thrive, while supporting the livelihoods of the Rwandan people.

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When we finished our visit with this family, our guides told us that several older male silverback gorillas had gone past the park boundary to find food. We could see them on the hillside going from one bamboo cluster to the next. Right next to them farmers were working their land, growing potatoes. It became clear just how challenging it is for Rwanda to protect the land for gorillas while also making it possible for people to continue their work, like farming.

I’m proud to partner with the Dian Fossey Fund because, along with the government of Rwanda, they are helping the gorilla population thrive, while supporting the livelihoods of the Rwandan people.

I’ll write more soon. For now I am going to continue to soak up every moment of my time here. It’s truly…incredible.

Love,

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