No monkey business this

Image (c) Young World, The Hindu, 2015

In this two-part story find out why the gorillas are miffed and if the Moa-ists get to the bottom of it.

The big olive green-feathered parrot looked grim as he folded the letter.

“It’s not good news, is it?” asked Kaka of Kea in a soft voice.

“It’s never good news for us. No news is bad news. Any news is also bad news,” reflected Ms. Kiwi philosophically, which amused the other two moa-ists hugely.

“Pack your bag! We are off to the Virunga Mountain Ranges of Africa!” ordered Kea. “Our mission is to help save the mountain gorillas there.”

Off to the mountains

Virunga Mountains border the countries of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This high volcanic mountain range is the home of the largest primate — the mountain gorilla. He is nearly six feet tall with long shaggy blue-black fur. He uses his knuckles of his extra long arms to walk through forests, feeding on fruits and leaves. Although he looks mean and threatening, he means no harm to anybody. So why did he write a letter to the Moa-ists? It was just what Weta too wanted to know.

“Kea, what did the big ape say in his letter?” he enquired, as the Spookjet flew towards Karisimbi, the highest mountain in the range.

Kea’s eyes flashed fire in anger. “The gorillas are in trouble and man is the cause of it. Poachers kill him for bush-meat. Loggers chop down trees in his land. Coal miners destroy his habitat. Farmers clear forests to grow crops. Rebel fighters drive refugees into the mountains. Tourists spread diseases among the gorillas. You tell me how we can spook man enough to leave the apes alone.” The Moa-ists fell silent. No one had a ready solution to offer.

It was a scary experience for the five ‘New Zealanders’. When they stepped out of the plane, they were surrounded by over 30 mountain gorillas, some young and some old. They were led by a large fearsome silverback male. His growls and grunts echoed through the forest. He pounded his chest with his large arms. He stamped the ground in anger. He bared his teeth to scare off his visitors.

Kea took charge of the situation. “Hello, Silverback! We are from the SPOOK Club. We have come in response to your letter.”

Hearing this, the gorilla stopped his menacing act. He smiled broadly and waved his arms in delight.

“Welcome to Virunga! The Congo Bongo Band will sing for you while you feast in this forest.”

“Good idea!” said Ms. Kiwi, as she walked away in search of worms. The band played catchy music. Weta tried to dance, but sadly got tangled in his own antenna. This, of course, made Tuatara laugh till his bumpy head hurt. Kaka and Kea were deep in thought. They had to find a way to save these gentle giants.

Read Part Two.

Published as part of a series titled SPOOK Nook in Young World, The Hindu on February 12, 2015.

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