The texture in this photo amazes me. This is an actual silverback gorilla hand. It was confiscated in Burundi, preserved by a taxidermist, and used as evidence in an international poaching trial. Once the trial was over, it was donated to an NGO for scientific and educational purposes. It found its way somehow to a zoo in Hattiesburg, MS. It is now part of a display which explains that it is a real ill-gotten gorilla hand and was evidence in a poaching trial.
Poor gorilla, is all I could think as I snapped this photo. Weeks later, I look at the image and it’s like some strange wizard’s artifact from another universe. If I hadn’t seen it for myself, I would not believe it’s real.
I once studied with a professor who worked for the AP for years in Africa before he took up teaching. He told me a story about an encounter he once had with a silverback gorilla. The professor, his wife (who also worked for the AP), and their guide (who was armed) came upon a group of gorillas somewhere in the African wild. One of the gorillas charged. The guide did not raise his rifle. He cautioned everyone to stand still and not make eye contact. The gorilla stopped short at the last minute, checked them out for a bit, then went back to his gorilla life.
I have no idea whether that guide was wise or foolish, but it sure is a cool story, and I’m glad it involves neither a person getting mauled nor a gorilla getting shot. 🙂