(TMU) — It must be surreal when a lifelong dream becomes reality and the moment is captured on film forever. Wildlife photographer Kirsty Taylor had her dream fulfilled when she shared an unbelievable moment with a gorilla mom and her tiny, adorable curly-haired baby in Rwanda.
As a little girl, Kirsty learned about mountain gorillas in an animal encyclopedia and watched them roam in an animated Tarzan film. She was enthralled by the beautiful animals and dreamed of one day seeing them in the wild.
Her choice of career as a photographer put her on the right path to realize her dream and she was fortunate to visit the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, which includes the Virunga Mountains, a range of extinct volcanoes that border the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda and home to a small population of Mountain Gorilla. Sure enough, Kirsty spotted some gorillas just over the Rwandan border.
A tiny, three-week old baby was being held in the arms of a female gorilla. As the group Kirsty was traveling with stopped to watch, the baby popped its head up to see what was happening.
According to Kirsty, the baby—with a shock of curly fur around its head—seemed fascinated by the humans. Kristy managed to capture her once in a lifetime, perfect shot of a loving mom and her curious baby, who happened to be looking straight at her camera.
Kirsty commented on the moment, saying: ‘’We only had a few minutes with the little family as we were on our way back down the mountain after our hour’s viewing was up, and were lucky to see them!
‘’I love the eye contact and the expression on the little baby’s face, looking at us like he’s not seen many humans before – and of course the cute curly hair!
‘’The pictures show the baby’s curly hair-do and how small and vulnerable he is compared to the adults.’’
Judging from Kirsty’s excitement of having finally seen mountain gorillas in the wild, I reckon she’ll be back for more.
According to the WWF’s website, the area Kirsten visited is the natural habitat of the smallest population of mountain gorillas in the world. Just over half of them live in the Virunga Mountains and the remainder in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.
This mountain gorilla subspecies was first discovered in 1902 and had since suffered through years of war, hunting, habitat destruction and disease. The threat to their survival was so severe that it was thought they may be extinct by the end of the twentieth century. Due to conservation efforts both populations of mountain gorillas have increased despite ongoing civil conflict, poaching and loss of their natural habitat from an encroaching human population.
The bleak outlook for the subspecies just a couple of decades ago has improved in recent years. Despite ongoing civil conflict, poaching and an ever encroaching human population, both populations of the mountain gorillas have increased in numbers. The Virunga Massif population has grown from 480 in 2010 to 604 individuals, making a total population of 1,000 gorillas left in the wild, globally, with their status listed as endangered.
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