The announcement that English Premier League club, Arsenal FC had entered a partnership with Rwanda really rubbed some people the wrong way. They threw all caution to the wind and went native on Rwanda for making such an investment. Apparently, because Rwanda receives aid for one reason or another then it has no right to choose how to spend even the money it has earned on its own. I wished I was still a secondary school teacher in Kigali because there would have been no better example for me to explain what ‘aid with strings attached’ can look like or why indeed countries need to wean themselves off aid so they can determine their destinies sans noise from the donors. There are enough books that have been written about how the aid industry works and who it works for but that is not what I want to really talk about today. The better noise to listen to is the one that the mountain gorillas themselves are making. You see these gentle giants are the top tourism product that Rwanda has to offer. They are a unique product too given that they can only be found within the Virunga massif (Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo) and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda. The gorillas are classified as endangered given to how few of them exist in the whole world. The above situation has meant that more money is spent in trying to make sure they do not disappear from the face of the earth more than getting people to come and see them. Conserving these gorillas and their habitat is so important that those visiting are limited on how many can visit at a time, how long they can visit and are even instructed on the distance they should maintain between the animals and themselves. One other the tour guides will tell you before you make the trek to where they are is that these primates make different sounds (about 50) to communicate different messages. Some sounds are a sign of greeting others are for aggression. Yes, a gorilla will indeed make a sound before it pounces on you. The time I visited the ones in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, our guide never mentioned anything about the sounds these animals make when they are making love. I guess some details are left out so as not to spoil your experience. There are some things you only find out on site. So while we were there watching these gorillas being as vegetarian as possible two of them decided to use that moment for coitus right there in front of us. And yes they made some sounds I guess to signify that they were enjoying it or to also warn the little ones not to come close. I later saw on National Geographic that this thing of making sounds during coitus is common among all primates. So I guess you know why they say we are so related to these guys in the jungle. Well the good news is that the mountain gorilla population has indeed risen from 800 to over 1000 as per the latest survey. 604 of these are found in the Virunga Mountains. The increase is attributed to the effectiveness of the conservation policies of the three countries such as regulations on visitor numbers, veterinary services, community sensitization on conservation and of course tight law enforcement and all round protection. The good environment these animals enjoy is also what allows them to find the time to engage in some rather loud coitus resulting in the babies that are then accorded a grand naming ceremony in Rwanda. But where there is birth there is also death. A number of rangers especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo have paid with their lives while trying to protect these gorillas from people with bad intentions. It is good to see American TV star Ellen DeGeneres committing to support conservation efforts in Rwanda. Her recent visit to the country and to the Volcanoes National Park was a very good gesture. As an East African I was more impressed by the fact that she was photographed having breakfast with giraffes in Kenya, in the jungle with gorillas in Rwanda and later seen chilling in the savannah grasslands of Tanzania! The East African region is really blessed by nature and more. As you read this, multitudes are gathered at the Uganda martyrs’ shrine in Namugongo in what is arguably the biggest religious tourism spectacle on the continent. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Blog: www.ssenyonga.wordpress.com Twitter: @ssojo81 The views expressed in this article are of the author.