Living amongst Gorillas

Filmmaker Thomas Behrend has endured a perilous eight hour drive through the jungles of the Central African Republic to reach the habitat of 3,000 silverback Makumbas, a majestic and generally mild-mannered gorilla. Assisted by world renowned zoologist Angelique Todd, who is known as “The Gorilla Whisperer”, and a team of ingenious trackers, Behrend braves the elements and sets out to record the Makumba species in their natural environment.

His journey of discovery is captured in The Jungle Adventure: Living amongst Gorillas, a revealing look at these rare and glorious creatures, and the passionate conservationists who devote their lives to observing and protecting them.

The Makumba are well acquainted with their human neighbors, and possess a level of comfort with them that almost borders on the dismissive. Teams of students, scientists and other explorers from all across the world often make a trek to the region for the opportunity to interact with the gorilla, and to learn the intricacies of their behavior and their relationship with the world around them.

As the film so beautifully demonstrates, strong bonds are possible between these gorillas and their human counterparts, especially those who invest sufficient time, and demonstrate the proper amount of patience and respect for the creatures and their home. Such is the case with Todd, who has remained in their company for years, observing their every move and custom, and even nursing them back to health when they fall ill.

Perhaps most profoundly, Living amongst Gorillas is revelatory in its depiction of Todd and others like her. The film provides a tactile sense of the treacherous environment in which these explorers must work. They sleep in unassuming camps hidden deep within the jungle, and are surrounded by potentially dangerous insects and the constant threat of tropical disease.

The jungles which serve as their foundations of exploration are not only inhabited by the gorillas they seek; the region is also teaming with imposing elephants who are often not as accommodating to human outsiders. Their lives are driven by the same sense of purpose that defines the film: an unquenchable desire to understand the most glorious of creatures which populate our planet, and to uncover our place among them.

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