What could I possibly have in common with these two men? We all worked together on a children's book, of all things, in the wake of the horrific Gorilla Massacre in June of 2007. But independently Peter and Emmanuel have gone on to become unlikely international heroes for other exploits. Peter has been a journalist and war correspondent for the BBC and then Al Jazeera covering some of the world's deadliest conflicts. Emmanuel has been responsible for protecting Virunga's mountain gorillas and is the highest ranking custodian of this world heritage site.
In 2007, the world's remaining population of mountain gorillas numbered 720 in total. At that time famed anthropologist and conservationist Richard Leakey, also Emmanuel's father-in-law, was not sanguine about the prospects for survival of the mountain gorilla species. He thought that they might only have five years before their numbers were to small to sustain the genetic diversity necessary for proper propagation of the species.
I was inspired to write this entry as I recently came across one of my photos of the two of them standing together in Virunga National Park about to set off on a trek to find the mountain gorillas. At the time I certainly had no idea what was in store for either of them. Fate has led them down very separate paths, both thrust onto the world stage.