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Five Shooter – Thumb: Gorilla

Once there was a coming together
Inauspicious, completely natural
A merging of genes to create a new life
The father was an Ape ancestor
The mother too, but more
A mutation made her the mother
Of a new line, unremarkable at first
More than two million years ago, Homo
Until the arrival, the Eve of Modern Humans
The mitochondrial mother of all, traceable
Take an evolutionary leap forward
Here today, looking back
A Gorilla once crossed a river
Unremarkable, completely natural
But we won’t let it come our way
Back in time we too crossed that river
Many in fact, some left mother Africa
Never relaxed, until far we spread
And made this world our own
The Cross River Gorilla may yet fall
Victim of our victory over all
Think, that could have been us
If another species won the race
We owe it to them and all
Not to do the irreversible
(Any more!)
Evolutionary biology made us revolutionary
Because of, among other things
An opposable Thumb
Gorilla – Opposable Thumb
How do you choose a Gorilla
To represent the Thumb, opposable
Maker of the Primate hand, manual
Made us what we are, tool makers
Each Gorilla species is endangered
Eastern Lowland, Western Lowland
Mountain, those in the mist
All would be missed if we let go
If we don’t talk to the hand
So we will go with Cross River
A region, a home for this species
Gorilla gorilla dielhi, never say die
Most at risk, extend our hand
Of protection, get a grip
Our closest relatives, hold on
Lebialem Highlanders, Cameroon
Nigeria shares their home too
At home in this biodiversity, hotspot
Future not assured, neither safety
Without our hand, intervening
To ensure they are left alone
To be Cross River Gorillas, keep crossing
Another Gorilla in the mist, sun montane
Cloud Forests, mysterious and wondrous
Enshrouded, let them remain obscured
Just by the clouds, hidden from danger
While they make their nests, bed on the ground
Females and young may prefer the trees
And to be near Silverback protection
Family group bodyguard, very handy
Recognised as a subspecies in ‘57
Thought to have gone extinct by ‘70
Thankfully some were still around
NGOs had to step in, and later
The Cross River Gorilla Project was born
Standing with them, the 300 that remain
Fragmenting, their only domain
Human communities across the border
Engaged in education and conservation
The only bulwark for the last stand
Learning to share their forest patchwork
Like the Gorilla, our hand symbol
The Primate hand, enabled by the Thumb
The Gorilla for hand to mouth, climbing
Rudimentary tool making, grooming
For us to pick up a camera or a gun
A weapon or a book, a connected device
Operate machines, pull handles
Paint, sculpt, write, create, calculate
Sign our language, and sign language
Even offensive gestures, or respect
Wave in friendship or clench a fist to fight
Set a trap for bushmeat, or a camera trap
To let us know the Gorillas are still there
The hand is a creator and destroyer
Sometimes extend it, sometimes hold it back
All because we have an opposable thumb
But our hand is not only human, it’s primate
We inherited it, like the Cross River Gorilla
Took it far and wide, used it to change the world
Not all, or even mostly, for the better
Yet we have a name to be wise
And a hand to enable wisdom and kindness
To build and restore according to conscience
Remember the importance of the Thumb
So we can talk to the hand
Get a grip on what’s important
Go back and cross that river again
With the Gorillas
Hand in hand
The Thumb holds it all together
Holds the fate of all
The Gorilla completes #thenewbig5
Except for the Epilogue, that’s a wrap
Coming soon…

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