Meeting Dr Fred


Dr Fred has an interesting way off making certain that his patients dont run away or move when he is examining them - he darts them first.  At different times he has had to dart a number of the family members, even the enormous father who at 400+ lb doesn't tend to run many places these days.  It can be difficult for Dr Fred to keep track of all his patients as they are constantly on the move, sleeping rough at night and then doing little else than eating and sleeping all day.

Fred's patients differ from mine in that his are mountain gorillas crossing between Uganda and Rwanda like eternal tourists.  As he answers my questions it is clear how similar a gorillas lifecycle is to ours. Sexually mature in their early teens the boys hang around the girls waiting for the right time when the silverback is distracted or they think they can stand up to him.  In their late teens they leave home and try their luck with another troop - natures way of mixing the gene pool.

Gestation is a little under 9 months and the singleton weighs a couple of kilos.  They can't walk until 8 months and hang onto mum. Gorillas are caring and affectionate mums having just 3 or 4 offspring in their life.

Fred is a keen photographer and we exchange ISO settings as boys do.  We are extremely lucky to see and photograph 2 young aged 25 days and 3 months. More mischevious and more trouble than any baby at that age but prompting no reaction from an uber-tolerant mum.

Fred is passionate that controlled tourism benefits the gorillas with better welfare and protection from poachers.  He leaves me with a plea to spread the word so that others can come and see these majestic creatures.  I thank him for his precious time and for all I have learnt; though I am not quite ready to dart my patients who will not sit still for my examinations!