In the kingdom of gorillas: fragile species in a dangerous land
In 1978, when Bill Weber and Amy Vedder arrived in Rwanda to study mountain gorillas with Dian Fossey, the gorilla population was teetering toward extinction. Poaching was rampant, but it was loss of habitat that most endangered the gorillas. When yet another slice of the Parc des Volcans in the Virunga Mountains was targeted for development, Weber and Vedder recognized that the gorillas were doomed unless something was done to save their land. Over Fossey's objections, they helped found the Mountain Gorilla Project. The MGP was designed to educate Rwandans about the gorillas and about the importance of conservation, while at the same time establishing an ecotourism project -- one of the first anywhere in a rainforest -- to bring desperately needed revenue to Rwanda. Weber and Vedder realized that Rwandans were bearing the full cost of saving the gorillas while receiving none of the benefit; the MGP would change that formula and help to meet local people's needs.
"In the Kingdom of Gorillas" introduces readers to the world of mountain gorillas. Through the authors we come to know entire families of gorillas, from powerful silverback patriarchs, who fiercely protect their territory and their families, to helpless newborn infants, cradled in their mother's embrace. Weber and Vedder take us with them as they slog through the rain-soaked moun- tain forests, observing the gorillas at rest and at play, eating, grooming, and preparing their nightly nests. They tell us about the gorillas they recognized and came to know as individuals, stories both tragic and joyful. They describe a landscape that was heaven one day, green hell the next. And they tell of their discovery of the terrible andmysterious events surrounding Fossey's murder.
When the authors first arrived in Rwanda, European expatriates called it "the Switzerland of Africa," a name that referred not only to its high mountains and rugged beauty but also to Rwanda's relative political and economic stability. Most outsiders knew the country only for its endangered gorillas, but Rwanda was a nation in danger, too. In the 1980s Weber and Vedder expanded their conservation work in Rwanda to include other forest reserves, learning more about the country, its people, and its increasingly turbulent politics. When a simmering civil war exploded into genocide in 1994, Weber and Vedder were in the U.S., unable to contact their many friends and colleagues trapped in the horrendous bloodbath. Later they would hear tales of brutality but also of heroism, including stories of park workers who hid their countrymen to protect them from slaughter. Others continued to work in the face of danger and without pay for nearly a year. Ironically, throughout the genocide and the subsequent conflict, the Virunga homeland of the gorillas was scarcely touched.
Today the population of mountain gorillas is the highest it has been since the 1960s, and there is new hope for the species' fragile future even as the people of Rwanda strive to overcome their ethnic differences.
Rich with details about the gorillas' lives, the realities of conservation, and portraits of ordinary people caught in extraordinary times, this is a riveting adventure story that is sure to take its place among the classic accounts of the world of nature.
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Review: In the Kingdom of Gorillas: Fragile Species in a Dangerous LandUser Review - Shelly-shawn Womack-gritton - Goodreads
Excellent! Excellent! Wish I was there :) Read full review
Review: In the Kingdom of Gorillas: Fragile Species in a Dangerous LandUser Review - Jo - Goodreads
Recently reviewed from reading at least 8 years ago. It definitely left an impression and an ambition to get to Rwanda (which I have now done).....if you are going to Rwanda or want to, or you are ... Read full review
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