Viral Rebound Affect: Our Conservation message goes Global

Our recent collaboration with African Wildlife Foundation has been picked up by the international press and in the process launched a resurgence in viewing of our Mountain Gorilla December encounter. Since the encounter was posted to YouTube on December 17 combined views have been mind blowing and will hit 4,000,000 views in just a couple of days. This does not count the many re-postings to other sites around the world that we cannot easily track. Among many stories – two catalyzed a lot of interest.
Der Spiegel, German weekly news magazine  (featured story in German) published January 16.

Der Spiegel – Tarzan’s Grandson (open with Adobe Reader)

Reuters Science posted Gorillas in our midst – one-off encounter, a boon for conservation efforts

COMING UP: Japan: NHK TV will air a program on viral videos of 2011 and feature our Mountain Gorilla encounter on February 5. If you are in Japan please tune in and let us now how it went. We were interviewed via Skype.

Read more.. Sunday, January 29th, 2012

African Wildlife Foundation: The Front Lines of Conservation

With now more than 2,000,000 views on our video Touched by a Wild Mountain Gorilla we are convinced that the world wants to help protect these creatures. We are therefore very pleased to announce cooperation with the African Wildlife Foundation in support of their mission to raise awareness and $ to protect the earth’s last wild Mountain Gorillas.

See what AWF is doing now in support of Mountain Gorillas    Ways to Save Mountain Gorillas

Check out our new message in the link below. All images by John and Pam King & The Common Flat Project

The Last Mountain Gorillas

Photo by Jonathan Rossouw

Meet the Rushegura Group Here

See the latest media coverage of the Encounter with Mwirima, the Rushegura Silverback male

Read more.. Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Touched by a Wild Mountain Gorilla – The Real Story

The response to posting this video has been overwhelming. Many people around the world have expressed their wonder and support for these beautiful and unique endangered creatures – The Mountain Gorillas. With so many questions we are posting this background to help answer them. Also please take a look at additional images of the gorillas in earlier blog posts on this site.

Background for  the video, “Touched by a Wild Mountain Gorilla,” produced by John J King II (youtube channel- aleutiandream)

Video Credits: John J King II , Pam King and  Jonathan Rossouw

Music Credit: Apertura, Gustavo Santaolalla, The Motorcycle Dairies

NOTE: Some have asked to experience the encounter as we did without a music bed. That video is here.

ALL Rights Reserved by John J King II, Jonathan Rossouw and The Common Flat Project


Video was shot in a private safari camp (Gorilla Forest Camp)  near the Bwindi National Park in the southwest of Uganda. This is a beautiful preserved section of mountain rainforest nestled into an agricultural area of Uganda, but fiercely protected by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Bwindi is home to roughly half of the world’s population of endangered Mountain Gorillas – roughly 350 individuals.

For the past twenty years, dedicated wildlife enthusiasts have visited this remote part of East Africa for the express purposes of witnessing these magnificent creatures. It is not an easy place to reach – it takes roughly a days’ drive in a four wheel drive vehicle over some pretty challenging roads to get to the village. Access is gained to the forest through a system of permits which are limited but may be purchased through the UWA. Permit holders gather daily after having acquired their permissions, sometimes many months in advance, and are assigned to trek with a local ranger, several trackers and often porters to help carry heavy camera gear (and support the local economy). Standard hiking gear including raingear, lunch and 4 liters of water are required to ensure preparation for a trek that can take any where from 1 – 8 hours to find the gorillas.

Hiking is through rain forest and behind machete-wielding trackers whose job it is to try follow the movements of several troops of wild gorillas that have been habituated to the prescence of humans. This means they are wild, but over a period of years they have been socialized to the visual presence of humans and are no longer afraid; they will not attack or run away when humans are present. This process is very time-consuming and requires amazing patience on the part of local wildlife rangers, as they spend time with these animals daily for months and years in all conditions.

The pay off is huge for thrill seekers like us, because it makes it possible for wildlife junkies to observe Mountain Gorillas in their normal daily lives. There are no guarantees that the gorillas can be located on a given day so trekkers are warned that their $600/day permit may just produce a nice spirited hike in the forest and no gorillas. Rainchecks and do-overs are not permitted. Most trekkers are rewarded however with sightings. Once located, human thrill seekers are permitted exactly one hour with the troop. The experience is magical and the time goes by in a flash! Typically the gorillas ignore the gawking and clicking human visitors who are required to stay approximately 7 meters away.

Very occasionally young gorillas are curious about humans and may approach, but this is very rare. Adult gorilla to human interactions are virtually unheard of among the local rangers! Mountain Gorillas also occur and may be seen in this way in Rwanda (just across the border) and the beginnings of a tourist industry is trying to get under way in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The total population of Wild Mountain Gorillas is about 800. To my knowledge there are no Mountain Gorillas in captivity.

Our experience:

We joined our friend and experienced wildlife guide Jonathan Roussow from Cape Town, South Africa on a two-week expedition through the western remote forests and parks of Uganda, with the primary goal of locating and observing Mountain Gorillas. We allowed three days for this purpose. Our permits allowed us to track two different groups on successive days. Our guides know these gorillas as most of them worked on the original habituation teams that paved the way for this important local economic activity which is critical to protecting forest habitat and the worlds remaining Mountain Gorillas.

We had extraordinary luck on day one and spent a beautiful hour with the Habinyanja group on the edge of a clearing where adult gorillas were eating (they are vegetarians) eating almost exclusively wild celery. The young gorillas were, of course, playing. Fantastic photographic opps! We were in and out of the forest in about 5 hours. Day 2 had us tracking the Rushegura group and trackers took us into a completely different section of the forest. Here we were in a dense canopy and with tracker determination found the troop in a little more than an hour. The group was in a rest period after probably having been feeding all night. We observed up close and personal babies nursing and youth playing in the presence of the silverback that was incredibly heartwarming. So much caring and love among these creatures. We were back to our vehicle, basking in a wildlife encounter high in about 3 ½ hours. Mission accomplished!!

Imagine our surprise and absolute amazement when we woke up the next morning to find that the Rushegura group had traveled for three hours and tracked us!! The rest….you already know.

For more information about the Rushegura Gorilla family group check this link

Additional media coverageSee links below

Read more.. Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

East Africa Journal – Mountain Gorillas!!

Touched by a Wild Mountain Gorilla (video)

Some day I will be the boss!

On a recent visit to East Africa we spent two beautiful days tracking Mountain Gorillas in the Bwindi National Park in southern Uganda. The Bwindi is home to about half of the world’s total population of approximately 750 wild mountain gorillas. Several family units have been habituated to tolerate the brief presence of humans to enable park trackers to to take wildlife enthusiasts into the forest for brief 1 hour encounters. This is an important source of revenue for the local community and encourages the importance of conservation of forest and these amazing and rare creatures. Typical tracking experiences can take between 1 to 8 hours of bushwhacking to locate the troop. There are no guarantees but most trekkers are rewarded with sightings. It can be pretty tough going especially if it is raining which happens frequently. After all it is a rainforest in the mountains on the equator! Our group of 6 plus rangers and local trackers found gorillas in reasonably clear forest, in less than two hours hiking and were allowed 1 hour to watch natural gorilla behavior from distances of about 20 feet away. We were also lucky….see what you think.

Discovery time for the Baby Gorilla

Happy times

Hanging around

Sister loves the baby

Silverback rests in the forest

Hanging out with Dad


Touched by a Wild Mountatin Gorilla

Read more.. Sunday, January 1st, 2012