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All eyes on Rwanda

Over the past 20 years, the country has transformed from a place of abject poverty and civil war to a progressive, stable nation. But what happens next?
Guhonda is the dominant silverback in the Sabyinyo group, which resides in Volcanoes National Park. At 46 years old, he is one of the oldestrecorded mountain gorillas. Photo by Will Whitford

Kurira was the first silverback I ever saw. Like a giant Sumo wrestler, he completely stunned me - sauntering around chomping at thistles and nettles, oblivious to their thorns and stings and seemingly to our presence. But for all Kurira’s majesty, it wasn’t him I’d been desperate to see back in 2004. It was his famous three-month-old babies Byishimo and Impano, the first twins to survive since gorilla conservation began in the 1960s. Being a twin myself, I was longing to see them but I knew it was a tough ask.

Having trekked five hours to reach the Susa group through dense rainforest and steep, slippery slopes, our permitted hour flew past as we watched enthralled by their human-like family scenarios - toddlers playing and squabbling, teenagers sulking and flirting, mums preening and protecting their babies. Yet the newborn twins had eluded us. As we were leaving, young mum Nyabitondore burst out from the bushes right beside me and scurried past, disappearing almost as quickly as she’d emerged, with her two fluffy little babies stuck to her breasts.

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