El Nault of South Carolina had never considered going to see mountain gorillas in the wild until 2010, when two friends showed her photos from a trip they’d been on with Jodi Carrigan, gorilla specialist at Zoo Atlanta.
Nault laughs when she retells the conversation. “I said, ‘I want to go.’ They said, ‘But we’re not going again for five years.’ I said, ‘I still want to go!’”
She got her wish in February when she went on a trip to Rwanda and Tanzania organized by Ujuzi Travel and led by Carrigan.
During four days at Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Nault went on three gorilla treks with Carrigan and others in the group.
The first day was the most strenuous trek. Because of rain and hail, the gorilla family Nault’s group was trying to visit kept moving in search of better shelter. After several hours of walking, the humans finally caught up with their gorilla cousins.
“When we saw them … grooming and eating and just walking around us – it was almost as if my mind could not comprehend the depth of the experience,” she recalls. “‘Moving’ is not even the word. It was a profound spiritual engagement with God’s world and his creatures. It was unbelievable.”
Several gorillas approached for a closer look at their human visitors, including one curious youngster who peered over Nault’s shoulder as a friend took a photo (above). “We felt really integrated into the [gorilla] community, and we abided by their rules and customs of courtesy with no loud noises, no flash, and getting out of the way if they were trying to get through. … There was a sense of being at peace together.”
Would you like to see some African wild dogs in person? Join Ujuzi and Dickerson Park Zoo on a safari to South Africa in March 2016!
South Africa is a land of amazing diversity – in wildlife, culture, and geography. In just 24 hours, you can swim among African penguins, track uncommonly beautiful mountain zebras, and enjoy tastings at some of the world’s most acclaimed wineries.
Join us this March for a magnificent journey in this land of discovery. You’ll start out in historic Cape Town, taking in a spectacular view of rocky peaks and blue ocean from the top of Table Mountain. Home to some of the richest biodiversity in the world, the Table Mountain range has more plant species than the entire United Kingdom. Other activities in the Cape include:
Kenya and Uganda have both made changes related to visitor visas. Kenya has introduced an electronic visa application, and Uganda has changed the fee for its 90-day visitor’s visa to $100.
The East African Tourist Visa — covering Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda — has not been effected by these changes. It is still available for $100 upon arrival in Uganda or Kenya.
Elephant poaching is disastrous not only for the animals who are killed, but also for their families. Poaching leaves countless infant and young elephants orphaned each year. Because young elephants are not fully weaned until they are 5 to 10 years old, they can die without maternal care. Sometimes a young calf will wait for days alongside its dead mother, slowly wasting away.
With one African elephant killed every 15 minutes for its ivory, orphan rehabilitation is an incredible need throughout the continent. For many years, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya has successfully rehabilitated orphaned elephants and helped to integrate them into new adoptive elephant families, but there has been no facility in Tanzania equipped to rescue such calves.
Now, the African Wildlife Trust is working to launch the first elephant orphanage in Tanzania. It will be located near the trust’s Maisha Kikoti Safari Camp, a favorite lodge of mine just outside of Tarangire National Park. (Proceeds from the lodge go to African Wildlife Trust to support Ivory Orphans and other conservation projects in Tanzania.)