When the trackers go out with the gorillas, it’s not all picture-taking and gorilla games. There’s work to be done. During our trek, Damascene and Gabriel showed me the techniques they use to collect data on the gorillas and monitor the groups – a program called Ranger-Based Monitoring (RBM).
I just arrived in Rwanda and am thrilled to be back in mountain gorilla territory - montane forests thick and misty as clouds. Everyone here is gearing up for Kwita Izina, an annual gorilla-naming ceremony modeled after the age-old Rwandan tradition of naming children. More on that later; I'm excited to trek into the forests and see these beautiful primates. I am reminded of Dian Fossey's passage from Gorillas in the Mist:
To successfully estimate leopard numbers in the concession, each leopard has to be individually identified by the unique spot patterns found on its flanks and face. Each leopard has its own unique spot pattern, like fingerprints on humans.