The Gorilla Mothers of the Forest

2% of the world’s rarest zebras wiped out in Kenya’s relentless drought. She is one of over 200 threatened species and subspecies.

But then she found something even more important than her long-lost cousins—a group of young, female gorillas in the same forest that she had once explored while on the trail with her family.

Rita and her daughter Nini were both working as part of the Save the Forest Foundation’s Wildlife Conservation Trust program when they first made the acquaintance of these females.

“I saw them three times. Three times in a month and they were just hanging out. It was beautiful,” says Rita. “I thought it was beautiful, because it’s a forest. It’s beautiful to see the gorillas.”

Nini would go back to the forest each day, but only to sleep. She says she never felt comfortable in the forest. “My parents always said that we always have to leave the forest and go home,” says Nini. “I told them that we never have to leave the forest in the morning before it’s nice. I was born there.”

A gorilla mother and her daughter have been hanging out in a small clearing in the forest for nearly three years. When Rita first saw the females, she couldn’t believe they lived such isolated lives.

“They really don’t have anybody out there looking for them,” says Rita. “This was the first time I saw them. They were hanging out in the forest all day long and they’re just not interacting. It was interesting for me as a human being to see this. I was impressed, I was amazed. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness! She’s an animal. I want to touch her.’ I just wanted to touch them, touch them and hold them and just talk to them.”

They would hang out every day in the small clearing, but never interacted in any way. Until one day, Nini saw a male gorilla coming that they have never seen before.

“When I came to look at the gorillas, I

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