BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK, Uganda — On a misty morning, a small group of critically endangered mountain gorillas led by a silverback known as Makara walks majestically into our view. Makara strides on his hind legs and carries a handful of foliage. He looks confident, and the saddle-shaped patch of silver hair on his back stands out. He quickly puts down the foliage and gestures as if to tell his troop to move ahead.
Makara leads the Habinyanja gorilla family, one of 36 in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park; his is one of 18 that are fully habituated to the presence of humans. The park measures just 321 square kilometers (124 square miles), a quarter of the area of Rome, but packs in about 430 mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei), out of a global population of around 1,000 spread between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda alone holds 54 percent of the total population.