A Family of Mountain Gorillas Accept a Gray Haired Photographer in a Black Shirt as One of Their Own

While visiting the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda during January 2012, wildlife photographer JJ King encountered the same beautiful Rushegura family of mountain gorillas whom he had observed the night before. The group included several females, several babies and a huge silverback male, who were walking down the path towards him. The gorillas stopped when they saw their visitor again, surrounded him on all sides and thoroughly investigated. King was wearing a black shirt, and combined with his gray hair, perhaps the group believed that he was another silverback who presented no threat. The ultimately accepted him as one of their own and went on their merry way.

We had extraordinary luck on day one and spent a beautiful hour with the Habinyanja group on the edge of a clearing where adult gorillas were eating (they are vegetarians) eating almost exclusively wild celery. The young gorillas were, of course, playing. Fantastic photographic opps! We were in and out of the forest in about 5 hours. Day 2 had us tracking the Rushegura group and trackers took us into a completely different section of the forest. Here we were in a dense canopy and with tracker determination found the troop in a little more than an hour. The group was in a rest period after probably having been feeding all night. We observed up close and personal babies nursing and youth playing in the presence of the silverback that was incredibly heartwarming. So much caring and love among these creatures. We were back to our vehicle, basking in a wildlife encounter high in about 3 ½ hours. Mission accomplished!! Imagine our surprise and absolute amazement when we woke up the next morning to find that the Rushegura group had traveled for three hours and tracked us!! The rest….you already know.

The longer version of the encounter.