Producer Jason Giberti, Dr. Jan, Dr. Eddy, and Cameraman/Diretcor Jim Incledon

By Molly Feltner, MGVP Communications Officer

On March 11, a film crew from the Animal Planet TV series Wildlife SOS  arrived in DR Congo to document the work of the Gorilla Doctors and Virunga National Park rangers for 9 days. Host Simon Cowell (no, not that Simon Cowell), Cameraman/Director Jim Incledon, and Producer Jason Giberti arrived in Goma a bit nervous about their first foray into the Congo but very excited to film mountain gorillas.  


Cameraman Jim films Drs. Jan and Eddy with Maisha.Drs. Eddy and Jacques picked up the crew the next morning and drove them to Rumangabo, the headquarters of Virunga National Park. Dr. Jan and Virunga National Park gorilla orphan caretaker Andre met the guys and brought them to the Senkwekwe Center, where Maisha, Kaboko, Ndeze, and Ndakasi were waiting. Jim filmed the first day of the orphan introduction. As if knowing they were being filmed for TV, the gorillas put on a dramatic show filled with screaming, biting, and posturing.

Host Simon Cowell interviews Emmanuel de Merode.After the gorillas settled down, Simon spent the afternoon interviewing Andre and Chief Park Warden Emmanuel de Merode about the gorillas and the threats facing Virunga National Park.

Jim films a massive pile of snares and weapons confiscated from poachers in Virunga National Park.Early the next day, the crew met with Innocent Mburanumwe, the ranger in charge of the gorilla sector of Virunga National Park. Innocent showed Simon the park’s snare storeroom where the rangers keep snares, machetes, bullets, grisly elephant traps, and other weapons confiscated from poachers in the park. Seeing these traps and weapons helped put the darker side of the gorilla conservation story into perspective.

Jim films the wives of Virunga National Park rangers dancing at Rumangabo.Later in the day, the filmmakers got to see a lighter side of rangers’ lives when the rangers’ wives performed songs in honor of International Women’s Day.

 Gorilla Noel is fascinated by his reflection in Producer Jason’s camera.

After two days at Rumangabo, the crew and Drs. Jan and Eddy headed up to Bukima, the starting point for gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park. While there were no interventions going on for the film crew to document, the Gorilla Doctors and park rangers did invite them to film routine health checks in Rugendo and Kabirizi groups.

Overall, Jim, Jason, and Simon were moved by their experiences with the gorillas and with the Gorilla Doctors and Virunga National Park rangers efforts to protect them.

Before heading back to their base in the U.K., the crew spent a few extra days in Rwanda filming the Gorilla Doctor’s One Health programs, including Dr. Jean-Felix’s work to vaccinate dogs for rabies and Dr. Noel’s work with cattle living near Volcanoes National Park.

Wildlife SOS airs on Animal Planet in Europe and Africa, and will hopefully soon be extended to the U.S. The Gorilla Doctors and Virunga National Park episode should air sometime in December before Christmas.

We’ll keep you posted on the exact date and time once Jason is able to edit the final product!

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