Humba Silverback

This is one of the two silverbacks in the Humba Troop. There's a lot of basic, but interesting things I learned about gorillas, and silverbacks specifically, while on my gorilla treks in Virunga National Park. What's so special about a silverback? Well, besides looking pretty badass, when a male gorilla reaches sexual maturity, there's a patch of hair that turns silver on its back. This happens after 12 to 13 years of age and acts as a marker to other gorillas.

Gorillas live in troops, led by one dominant silverback. While there can be multiple silverbacks in a troop, there is always one that is the leader. In the Humba Troop's case, this is the silverback named Humba, brother of Senkwekwe which was sadly executed in 2007. The troop has two silverbacks, two babies, two adult females, one sub-adult female, and two juveniles.

Seeing animals in the wild is always better than a zoo, but the presence and closeness of visiting a gorilla troop in the wild is unlike anything else. The excitement, the awe, the wonder, the amazement. I think I was out of breath - not just because I scrambled up hundreds of feet in short order to keep up with the troop, but because I couldn't believe how privileged I was to be in the presence of these breathtaking animals. The sound and surge of adrenaline from a charge is something I dearly wish to experience again.

A brief moment of stillness from this habituated silverback.