Tom’s List

Tom Karemire during gorilla tracking briefing

Tom Karemire (72) has been a nightwatchman at the Gorilla Highlands HQ since forever. In 2014, to celebrate his decade of service, we fulfilled Tom’s big wish: he wanted to meet mountain gorillas.

Early in the morning on Saturday 22 November 2014 Tom left Kisoro by car, reached Mt Muhavura and started footing to the rangers’ office. They gave him instructions, for example, they told him to hide his stick when meeting the gorillas not to scare them. He doesn’t remember the rangers’ names but there was a “black one” among them.

Lake Mutanda visible during gorilla tracking

Tom knew Elephant, Hyena, Leopard, Lion and Kobs but not Mountain Gorillas who live a day’s walk from his Lake Bunyonyi island. He wanted to be the second person from his parish to meet them – a priest who works in Kisoro had tracked them before Tom.

First gorilla sight

It was difficult to reach the gorillas. Tom had to walk a distance similar to the distance between Bufuka peninsula and the church at Kyabahinga. When Tom got there, he found guards already there, guarding the animals.

Mountain gorillas as seen by Tom Karemire

The youngest among gorillas was like a big goat. The group leader was lying down, resting. But one hour with the gorillas was enough – Tom saw what he needed to see!

Two gorillas as seen by Tom Karemire

People ask: “Is it like on photos?”. “I say not, photos are photos, but to see them clearly is really very fantastic!”

Tom Karemire with his gorilla certificate

After seeing the gorillas, Tom went back to the office where rangers welcomed him and thanked him. He rested, took some cakes and passion fruits, posed for a group photograph and received a certificate.

Tom's list of gorillas

Tom didn’t have a camera with him, so he decided to write down the names of all the gorillas he met, to remember them.

Tom Karemire before and after gorilla tracking

Tom’s special souvenir from Mgahinga is a T-shirt. When his brother went to Namugongo to pay respect to Uganda Martyrs, he bought a remembrance T-shirt, therefore Tom had to do the same!

photo: Metka Ursic, Miha Logar