National Geographic : 1970 Jan
Bridging the gap between man and animal, the author and a 400-pound gorilla she named Rafiki take one an other's measure. Miss Fos sey, with notebook and bin oculars, keeps arms folded -a gorilla gesture of sub mission-to show she means no harm. Inspired by the unique study of chimpanzees by Baroness Jane van Lawick Goodall, Miss Fossey under took her close-range research of gorillas three years ago. In the early days, the animals, upon spying her, would scream and run. But by imi tating their actions, avoiding threatening gestures, and waiting for them to come to her rather than advancing on them, she has so quieted their fears that some of the younger ones have come close enough to toy with her clothing and equipment. Largest of the great apes, gorillas live in groups, each recognizing the leadership of a huge silverback such as Rafiki, whose back has turned white with age. Sub ordinate males, called black backs, left, serve as sentries. effort is made to save the mountain gorilla, it is doomed to extinction within the next two or three decades. One of the basic steps in saving a threat ened species is to learn more about it: its diet, its mating and reproductive processes, its range patterns, its social behavior. I had read of Jane Goodall's studies of chimpanzees and visited her camp in Tanzania's Gombe Na tional Park.* In 1967, with help from Dr. Louis Leakey and grants from the National Geographic Society and the Wilkie Brothers 52 Foundation, I began a study of the gorilla. The study was not without interruptions, one of them quite serious. I began my work in the Congo on the slopes of Mount Mikeno. After only six months of observation, I was forced to leave the country because of politi cal turmoil in Kivu Province. This was a sub stantial setback, for the gorillas there roamed *See the Baroness van Lawick-Goodall's fascinating article, "My Life Among Wild Chimpanzees," GEO GRAPHIC, August 1963, and her "New Discoveries Among Africa's Chimpanzees," December 1965.