"Only if we understand, will we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help shall all be saved." – Jane Goodall
Maybe it's because gorillas display so many human-like behaviors like laughter and sadness. Maybe it's because Dian Fossey discovered, after years of working intimately with the animals, that they like to be tickled. Maybe it's how close gorillas and other great apes are to our evolutionary line. Whatever the reason, knowing that these primates are facing extinction from the Congo Basin by the mid 2020s was a call to action for me.
Jane Goodall knew that if she were to advocate for gorillas, she would need to help the world see them as she saw them, as she knew them. I was inspired by both Goodall and Dian Fossey to travel to Africa and spend time documenting the life of primates, their relationships, their playfulness, their instincts, and their communities. I couldn’t help but think how closely related we are to these primates, and what we could learn about ourselves if we understand their behaviors. But it’s more than that. As Fossey said, When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future.” The more we understand about these animals, the more we see the necessity of protecting them. Gorilla populations have crashed, specifically the Cross River Gorilla, the most rare of all gorillas, to just 250-300 left. The Mountain Gorilla population is down to only 880. Many of the great apes live in countries where civil wars rage and where corruption and disorganization are rampant, making conservation efforts difficult. With my photographs, I try to honor what Goodall meant when she said, "The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.”