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Trekking in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park brings us up close and personal with the world’s biggest silverback.

Sunday Ndayakunze isn’t your regular park ranger. He lives and works in one of the world’s most dangerous national parks and needs to carry a loaded rifle and machete with him at all times. But this isn’t primarily to protect himself from the wild animals that lurk in the depths of the tropical undergrowth of Uganda. It’s because the park he patrols borders the far more dangerous Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country that has been caught in the midst of an all-consuming violent civil war for the past 15 years.

Sunday was only a young boy when he first heard about the rare creatures that lived in the jungle from his grandfather, but after learning of their plight, he knew that he wanted to spend his life studying and protecting them.

When his grandfather went exploring, Sunday recalls from his childhood, his papa would catch glimpses of elusive jet-black shadows peering out of the dense rainforest canopy, their red eyes shining beyond the sprawling vines and buffers of rugged vegetation.

Sometimes, after dark, when he had returned to his village for dinner, he could hear the creatures beating their chests and whooping into the night. Little did Sunday’s grandfather know at the time that his backyard would soon be home to the world’s last remaining population of wild mountain gorillas.

That was 30 years ago, and now Sunday is one of the chief park rangers and tourist guides at Bwindi Forest Impenetrable National Park in western Uganda. Leaving this small one-street village behind as a teenager, he completed a whole variety of ranger courses and professional qualifications in the capital of Kampala so that he could one day come back and make a difference to the lives of the animals he left behind.

“When my grandfather told me his stories I wanted to help. Their numbers were already dwindling,” he says. “I was only a boy at the time but I knew that they were in danger and I wanted to do anything I could to help save them for the next generation.”


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Trekking with gorillas in Uganda
Digital Mag

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