March 26, 1993 |
I climbed the slope of the volcano slowly, knowing the gorillas were near, just beyond the green tangle of thistle and nettle in front of me. Suddenly the wall of vegetation exploded as Bilbo, the dominant silverback male of a group of gorillas studied by researchers, thundered toward me, sending me flying backward, tumbling head over heels to the bottom of this large salad bowl. I lay laughing uncontrollably, heady from the adrenaline pumping through me, happy to have survived, though ungracefully, my first personal encounter with one of the Karisoke Research Center's groups of wild mountain gorillas in Rwanda.
January 7, 1986
Instead of burying the article about the death of Dian Fossey in the back of the Dec. 29 issue, it should have been blazed across the front page. Ms. Fossey was a martyr to the cause of saving the rare and inoffensive mountain gorillas from extinction and she was a very brave woman. Her book Gorillas in the Mist describes her long struggle against the poachers and their steel snares that maimed and crippled many of her gorilla friends. These poachers had no respect or love of wildlife and merely wanted to kill gorillas to sell parts of their remains as trophies, or to catch baby gorillas and keep them in unsanitary conditions, where they contracted many human diseases, until they could be sold to zoos.
July 24, 1994 |
If warring factions and streams of refugees continue to leave them alone, Rwanda's population of mountain gorillas may emerge unscathed from the country's devastating civil war. Being left alone does not, however, guarantee a future for the great apes of northwestern Rwanda, part of a population of about 300 mountain gorillas living high in the Virunga Mountains on the borders of Rwanda, Zaire and Uganda. These gorillas constitute half the world's number of the endangered subspecies.
August 22, 1986 |
The central African nation of Rwanda has issued an international arrest warrant for a New Jersey wildlife researcher in the slaying of naturalist Dian Fossey, who was killed last year at an African camp where she was studying rare mountain gorillas. Actualites Nationales, a daily newsletter published by the Rwandan Ministry of Information, said Wayne Richard McGuire, 34, of Hazlet, Monmouth County, was "suspected of being implicated in the murder. " The newsletter said five Rwandans, whom it did not identify, also were suspects.
October 21, 1988 |
In the deceptively short book Marilyn: Norma Jeane, with photographs by George Barris (Signet, $4.95), author Gloria Steinem writes: "If you add her years of movie stardom to the years since her death, Marilyn Monroe has been part of our lives and imaginations for nearly four decades. That's a very long time for one celebrity to survive in a throwaway culture. " You get a memorable reason why in Barris' first photograph of Monroe: The 36-year-old woman who still looks like a little girl stares at us with a vulnerability that shrivels the heart.
May 19, 1991 |
The 1988 movie Gorillas in the Mist helped make mountain-gorilla tours popular in Rwanda, but an insurgency there has largely ended the tours and naturalists voice some fear for the gorillas' welfare. About 310 mountain gorillas survive in Rwanda's Kagera National Park, where armed rebels of the Rwandese Patriotic Front have been present since early this year. Since January, a group of seven or eight gorillas known as Group 9 has been missing, according to a spokeswoman for the Digit Fund, the nonprofit organization set up by the famed gorilla researcher, Dian Fossey, to protect the gorillas.
May 4, 1986 |
Adventure travel is a hot market these days, with companies and people jumping into business all the time. Travel with them, most often, is exhilarating, but sometimes the adventure comes not on some mountain peak, but at some forsaken jumping-off spot when the airplane or the guide doesn't show. That's not likely to happen with Wilderness Travel, an outfit that's been around nine years. Its international staff comprises some of the last of the rugged individualists; its free 80-page picture-laden "1986 Trip Preview" is a trip all by itself.
September 19, 1999 |
Tracking mountain gorillas was made famous by American Dian Fossey (1932-1985), who went to Zaire (now called the Republic of Congo) and Rwanda in the '60s to study primates. Fossey also wrote the book Gorillas in the Mist, later made into a major Hollywood film starring Sigourney Weaver as Fossey. Following standard operating procedure in Hollywood, the 1983 movie drifted as far as possible from the actual information in Fossey's book. From what I can tell, the main truths it captured were: (1)
March 7, 1997 |
Leave it to Banff to hatch the planet's premier festival of films about mountains and their mystique. Nestled in the front range of the Canadian Rockies, the quaint British Columbia burg has long been heaven on Earth for mountain lovers. There's boulder-climbing right in town. Rock jocks who prefer ice axes and spiked boots frequent a convenient waterfall that freezes solid in the long northern winter. Less adventurous tourists with fat wallets hire helicopters to drop them in the wilderness for an afternoon and pluck them out in time to dress for dinner.
April 29, 1994
CARTOON SANS COMPASSION I was disturbed by the lack of compassion in Signe Wilkinson's cartoon April 14 (animal lovers in the midst of human bodies in Rwanda, saying, "The endangered gorillas still seem alive . . . I guess everything's OK. "). Some Rwandans involved in the carnage there have brought suffering upon themselves and others, but the mountain gorillas, like most of the human victims, are innocent and powerless against the weapons of violence. Ms. Wilkinson is probably aware that Rwanda's gentle and intelligent mountain gorillas are on the brink of extinction as a result of human ignorance and greed.