This adult male mountain gorilla (known as a silverback) sat calmly while I photographed him from close range.

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM +1.4x at 160 mm, 1/100 sec at f/4, ISO 800

Little did I know at the time that this gorilla, which was literally the first individual of dozens I would see over four days of trekking in Rwanda, would become one of my favorite subjects of the entire trip. He sat quietly even as one of the guides removed some obstructing vines that draped across his chest. When he wasn’t feasting on handfuls of vegetation, he would pause, and gaze at me and my fellow trekkers with those piercing eyes. It still gives me chills when I think about those moments of connection with this most sentient of creatures.

This encounter took place in Rwanda’s Parc National des Volcans. The individual gorilla pictured here is one of four silverbacks belonging to the Kwitonda family.

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