December 16, 2011

Around the world with gorillas

A male mountain gorilla chews on vegetation while tourists
watch in Rwanda (photo by Reid and Gus Bates).
Our family met the Bates family from Louisiana while we were on our sabbatical in Namibia. They were also on a Fulbright fellowship, and our kids went to the same school in Windhoek.  We had some great adventures (here, here, and here) during 2009.

While we settled back in the States, the Bates family found another opportunity to travel in Africa...with another adventure to Rwanda. They recently had the opportunity to mingle with mountain gorillas! You can read about their exciting day by going to their blog here. In short: they paid to spend the day sitting in the forest just feet away from a group of gorillas!

The Bates' experience is just one more example of innovative ways to support conservation. As we look to the future in the Great Plains and the world...innovative solutions are going to come in many forms.  And, they will not be easy.

On their blog, Gwen sums it up well:

The gorillas are truly one of the few great natural resources that Rwanda possesses. They bring in millions of dollars to the economy in terms of tourists buying permits, paying for accommodations, spending money on food and souvenirs, drivers and petrol. They unfortunately are under great pressure from loss of habitat, poaching, and disease. It’s quite a balancing act that has to take place to keep all the elements in equal proportion and not letting one element tip the scales. How long Rwanda can continue to do so is anybody's guess.

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