Lords of the Drinks

Drunken silverback gorilla attacks French photographer in Rwanda


Photographer Christophe Courteau is knocked over by a silverback gorilla. Photo: Christophe Vasselin.

A 46-year old Frenchman named Christophe Courteau had the shock of a lifetime this weekend in Rwanda. As he was performing his job as a wildlife-photographer in the Virunga Mountains a full grown silverback gorilla male knocked him off his feet. Courteau claimed his attacker was drunk from the many fermented bamboo stems he ate. When the ape saw another male hitting on one of ‘his’ females, he got into a drunken rage and the poor photographer was simply in the way. The incident was even captured on some unreal pictures.

Courteau told how the giant gorilla named Akarevuro, with a weight of around 275 kilos, punched him aside as he was chasing his rival. “All the members of this family were quite excited on this day, probably due to the consumption of the bamboo stems, which cause the gorillas to become extremely drunk and excitable. Suddenly, Akarevuro, who stood close to us, just ran at me, but I could not move away as I was taking photos on my knees. In less than a second, he was on me, and strongly hit me like a rugby player. With the shock, I felt all his power and weight on my body.”

Courteau survived the incident without major injuries. And besides a cool story to tell he now has the picture of his life, since he managed to push the button right before Akarevuro’s powerful weight hit him. His colleague Christophe Vasselin even got a photo in from the side. Both remind more of a violent King Kong scene than a peaceful documentary about family life in the jungle.

Courteau’s picture right before he gets nocked off his feet by a silverback gorilla.

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