The weather has been mostly dry during the month, with only two nights of heavy rain mid-month. One morning, we experienced light showers which, luckily, did not interfere with our guests gorilla treks.
September has been a very special month for the Mountain Gorillas. On September 1st the âKwita Izinaâ ceremony was held, when 18 baby mountain gorillas were given names. The President, Hon. Paul Kigame and several Government officials, plus over 1,000 local and overseas visitors, attended this important event.
September 22nd marks the celebration of 50yrs of the Dian Fossy Gorilla Fund. It was on that date in 1967 that Dian established her Karisoke Research Center, high up in the saddle between 2 volcanoes, Karisimbi and Bisoke. This is a wonderful location and is well worth a visit. Dian described the site as âMy camp is located on a flower-filled, grassy meadow that separates the mountain of Visoke from the foothills of Karisimbi. The meadow extends for roughly three miles east to west and is not more than a Â½ mile in width. It is crossed by bubbling creeks, one runs right outside my tent, and filled with huge, moss-laden Hagenia trees. The scenery is of such perfection that one feels that everything must be planned as a parkâ¦.â
Photo courtesy of Alisa Bowen
Little did she know that she would be murdered in 1985 in the beautiful location. Her murder has never been solved.
Other events to celebrate this occasion were the Great Gorilla Run which was held in London, England and raised over Â£52,000 for the Gorillas.
The September issue of National Geographic will feature Dian and, in December, âDian Fossey: Secrets in the mistsâ will be screened on TV.
All our guests return to the lodge after experiencing their visit to a gorilla family with BIG smiles and full of stories of their time with the gorillas. The gorillas are now so used to humans visiting them it is at not at all unusual for a gorilla to brush past you. Also, the large Silverback males often allow you to within 2 metres of them, almost completely ignoring you. All the habituated groups appear to have small babies and many of our guests have returned with great images of them.
The gorilla doctors are always busy, mostly checking each group of gorillas for any sign of sickness or injury. Sometime back, the vets were told of an infant gorilla that had a snare around its lower leg. When they arrived on the scene they found the infant gorilla surrounded by his family group. This is a dangerous situation for the vets as, if they approach the trapped infant to anesthetize it, they may well be attacked by the family, as they try to protect it. Much to their surprise, the family including the infantâs mother moved some distance away, leaving only the Silverback to watch over the infant, while the vets went to work releasing the wire snare and then treating the wound caused by the snare.
We are getting regular visits from a small group of Golden Monkeys and, although a little shy, Iâm sure they will soon be habituated to our guests and staff, as they walk around the lodge. A number of our guests have enjoyed the short trek to view the habituated troop of Golden Monkeys. At the moment, the monkeys are spending a lot of their time on the ground feeding on the new bamboo shoots. This makes them so much easier to see and to photograph.
We were delighted to hear that Sabyinyo was awarded 1st place for the Best Tax Payer in Northern Provence.
Our lodge upgrades continue. More none slip steps are being built, to make it a little easier for guests to climb to the Lodge and their cottages. Also, work being carried out on the entrance to the car park and many of the old and very tall eucalyptus trees near a number of the cottages are being felled. The timber will be mostly used for firewood in the cottages but also has been used by SACOLA to rebuild two local bridges near the Lodge.
Guests canât miss the amazing number and colours of Sunbirds that occur here. The local special is the Rwenzori Double-collared Sunbird, which is very common. Other Sunbirds are the Northern Double-collared, the Variable Sunbird and the Collared Sunbird. The male Variable Sunbird has a bright yellow/golden breast which is not illustrated in any of the bird guides.
Other birds easily seen are the tiny Kantâs and Yellow-billed Waxbills. Birds of Prey have been noticeable, with a pair of Wahlbergâs Eagles collecting sticks for nest building, also a pair of Augur Buzzards have been regularly displaying above the Lodge. The Augur Buzzards are particularly interesting in that both male and female are melanistic (black). Unfortunately, a pair of Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawks seemed to have moved elsewhere. Early in the month they could regularly be heard calling to each other but, possibly, the tree cutting has made them move. All Sparrowhawks love to build their nests in Eucalyptus trees.
Dave Richards, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Relief Manager.