Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda - 2020
Dian Fossey - the Californian zoologist who became the world’s leading authority on the mountain gorilla - left a formidable legacy when she was tragically murdered in 1985. Her resting place, high up in the rain forest, is visited regularly by those that want to pay homage to her life. Fossey’s famous book ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ chronicled her research and conservation work that helped to reduce the downward population trend in mountain gorillas, ultimately saving them from extinction.
Her grave is a two and a half hour walk straight uphill from the little mountain village of Bisate on the edge of the National Park and over the years a well-trodden path has taken shape in what is otherwise a dense and fairly impenetrable rainforest.
In all my times trekking through the forest in search of gorillas, I have never had the fortune to be able to use this path to access the gorillas - as quite simply it was too far from the location of any particular troop to be of use. But on this occasion during Covid 19 we were working tightly with the rangers - who advised us that the Umubano Group were near the Fossey trail.
It certainly helped the trek to use the path, but far better than that, it transpired that a large Silverback from the Umubano Group - Bunyenyeri, 21 years old - was coming down the mountain on the same Fossey path at 10,000 feet.
It was as good an encounter in open space that I can remember and he just stood on a ridge further up on the path and stared down at me. It was a glimpse, a moment in time and thankfully one that I was able to record.
Maybe he had gone to pay his homage to Dian Fossey, we will never know, but we decided to call this photograph The Pilgrim.