Stirton saw firsthand how the news of a gorilla's death affected the rangers, whose only job was to protect the endangered apes. "That's a huge deal for these guys," Stirton said. "Because their identities are super tied to these animals."
Stirton and his crew, along with a group of rangers, set out for where the murdered gorilla had been reported - walking five hours through dense jungle.
When they arrived, they found carnage. A total of seven gorillas had been slaughtered, including one pregnant female. Bullet holes riddled the body of Senkwekwe, the male silverback.
Solemnly, the rangers began to cut down small saplings to carry the gorilla's bodies.
What struck Stirton most, as the brokenhearted rangers prepared to carry the murdered apes to a special burial ground, was the absence of any talking at all. "This was all very silent," he said.