Makara is the dominant silverback gorilla in his family of 17. His name means "Charcoal" and he is the latest dominant silverback of the Habinyanja group Mountain gorillas are the largest ape in the primate family, and are critically endangered. The Ugandan Gorilla Safari is part of a small group of national parks in Africa protecting mountain gorillas and their habitat. Makara's group is one of the 10 habituated gorilla families inhabiting in Bwindi impenetrable forest. The Habinyanja Group has one of the largest home ranges of the habituated gorillas in Bwindi National Park. 

Mountain gorillas are a critically endangered species, and the largest ape in the primate family. The Uganda Gorilla Safari is part of a small group of national parks in Africa inhabiting and protecting mountain gorillas. 

In 2009, Makara took over from the previous Silverback Gorilla Rwansigazi.  As far as silverbacks go, Makara is not physically very big. Even when we consider that this could be because he is still young, he was much smaller and darker than Rwansigazi when he decided to challenge his big brother for leadership.  This coup in the family came as a great surprise to the trackers as Makara was known to be very friendly as a blackback. However all this seems to have changed when he matured into a silverback because he takes his protective role to heart. He is extremely caring of the females and the gorilla young in the group.  The main threats to critically endangered mountain gorillas include habitat loss and poaching.  The Uganda Gorilla Safari works tirelessly to protect these magnificent families, but need the help of public awareness and action to succeed in saving the species.

After visiting Makara and his family in Uganda, Gillie and Marc were deeply moved by his human-like behaviours and emotions. With 98% shared DNA to our own species, the husband-and-wife artists witnessed an astounding level of empathy, kindness, and love…

Now, Gillie and Marc are hoping that we humans will love his species in return. It’s time to #LoveTheLast mountain gorillas, before they’re gone forever.


In the new year, Gillie and Marc embarked on another amazing and inspiring trip to Africa, where they spent three weeks photographing and studying mountain gorillas and chimpanzees. They flew to Entebbe in Uganda, and from there spent many grueling hours in a truck driving over bumpy and rough gravel roads! From a small airstrip, they hopped onto another small plane for the 2 hour flight to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. A UNESCO world heritage site, this forest is one of the most isolated  in the world, and it contains 400 of the remaining 1000 Mountain Gorillas in the world.

The artists awoke at 8.30am to commence a four hour trek, hacking through dense undergrowth, up slippery mud slopes and through swarms of insects to find one of the habituated groups of gorillas. They were lucky enough to encounter the Silverback gorilla Makara and his group or around 17 gorillas, including Ruyombo and Kavuyo, two adult blackblacks, females Rukundo and Nyabuche, and also a few infant male gorillas! The babies were very curious, and often came up to try and touch the people surrounding them.  As these incredible creatures are very susceptible to colds and diseases, they could only spend an hour in their presence and keep their distance. 

It was like nothing they could have imagined. Tears streamed down their faces as they saw these majestic creatures up close, after planning and dreaming of this moment for five years. Their intelligent eyes looked straight into you. Marc could only describe this as feeling like he was walking on the moon for the first time. This is an indescribable feeling that everyone should experience and they cannot recommend a trip to Africa enough!
Gillie and Marc are so humbled to have seen Makara and they were greatly moved by his behaviour and emotions that were very similar to our own, showing great levels of empathy, kindness, and love. He was so powerful, graceful and had such a commanding presence. It was both an awe-inspiring and terrifying experience, yet all of the gorillas were so relaxed and comfortable in their presence. The experience was so intimate and the artists felt an immediate collection to these beautiful animals, It’s not surprising considering they share 98% of our DNA! Just like our fingerprints, each gorilla has their own unique nose print so you can tell them apart. But there are only 400 mountain gorillas left in Uganda, and if we don’t act now, we will lose them forever.