This carefully rendered silverback sits alone in his bamboo forest. The artists pay great attention to his markings as well as to the surrounding plant life, which correctly depicts the flora of the volcanic mountains in the north of Rwanda, where the mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) lives.
The dominant male of each gorilla family is the “silverback,” a name derived from the pearly hair on the gorilla’s back that develops upon maturity. Gorillas are peaceful creatures who spend their days foraging for food, playing, and grooming; they are aggressive only when threatened. In their home in Rwanda’s Virunga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the number of gorilla families has been increasing due to the efforts in Rwanda to protect them, yet they remain vulnerable to poachers, especially if they stray outside the park’s boundaries into the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rwanda is the only place where wild silverback gorillas can be viewed in safety.