Young Gorillas in Rwanda Re-unite with Their Family
For long, the Dian Fossey Fund experts as well as researchers have been following the rare behavior among the mountain gorillas within the Volcanoes National Park including the 3 (three) youngsters that broke off from their family. The youngsters include Fasha 4 years old, Masunzu 3 years and Umugwaneza who is yet to reach three years in January. Historically, the 3 individuals have encountered the most difficult moment in the course of their survival in the jungles of Volcanoes National Park given the fact that all the 3 mother gorillas that gave birth to them left the family and they remained behind while in their younger stages. Fortunately, Kubaha, the 19 year old silverback that features as the leader of the family came to their rescue plus the orphan in the family. By early December, their troop had an interaction with another troop and despite the harmonious encounters; Fasha, Umugwaneza and Masunzu still broke off from the main family and began moving independently. This followed the last encounters between their family and a lone silverback where Kubaha silverback was harmed and he was not capable of helping the orphans at the time when he was recovering from the injury.
Once the family drastically changes as it was a case with this gorilla troop, Dian Fossey Fund staff are re-assigned to make sure they are in position to proceed with the monitoring and protection of each and every individual of these Great apes in the wild. The trackers were concerned for the welfare of these young primates who traveled independently at younger stages. They also met with Titus’ family and were unfortunately chased by one of the silverbacks. On 22nd December, the 3 young gorillas had found and re-united with their family. At the time these youngsters encountered each other they were curious, they even went and laid down with the silverback.
Previously, the young Umugwaneza encountered her first severe challenge around November when her mother Bukima left and joined a new family. The youngster was only three years. In these Great apes’ family, mountain gorillas can be weaned as young as two to three years but this is rare and they could still depend on their mothers mainly for warmth at night and would sleep with their mothers till the following baby is born. The young Fasha had a traumatic experience around April when she got caught in the poacher’s wire snares. The lucky bit of it was that Dian Fossey Fund trackers noticed early enough that she was missing in her family and set off to look for her independently with a piece of rope wound tightly around her ankle. But fortunately, it was successfully removed by veterinary doctors.
It has been something so stressing for Isabukuru’s family after the death of their leader and worse of it still is when one of the youngsters was also being caught in a wire snare. Whereas there has been no individual that has been registered to caught in wire snare since November 2015, Dian Fossey trackers have recently become concerned with the ever increasing number of snares most of which are found around gorilla families. Fasha at one point went missing from the family and Dian Fossey Fund staff had to look for him and got a deactivated snare. Recently, they traced for Fasha by himself with a long piece of rope around his ankle, attached to a bamboo branch. They were able to remove the branch but the rope was wound tightly around his foot. The veterinary intervention was however necessary for the rope to be detached that needed sedation. Trackers had to wait till Fasha was able to return to his family since he was too stressed out and before looked like moving to a wrong position. Fasha was later sighted near Kubaha silverback that succeeded the family since the previous leader Isabukuru passed on 26th March. Fasha was one of the 3 youngsters that were getting a special care from Isabukuru since their mothers left and joined the new families. Fortunately, Kubaha has managed to offer protection to these youngsters. Dian Fossey Fund trackers and researchers play a crucial part when it comes to saving these endangered apes in the wild.
Masunzu whose mother had also left the family around January, showed signs of depression and had some trouble keeping up when the family crossed a big River. This three year youngster has also encountered a bit of challenges in his life and his journey reveals some kind of resilience, adaption and care. Female gorillas usually leave and join new families leaving behind their young ones and this normally occurs when their infants are a bit grown up. Around three years, Masunzu was likely full weaned but still very young to live independently without a mother. Initially, he showed signs of depression and lived near Isabukuru who did his best and acted as a surrogate mother. Isabukuru silverback also cared for the other two youngsters whose mothers also left the families. Unfortunately, the silverback fell sick and started becoming weaker and weaker till he passed on around March which meant a big loss for Masunzu. Fortunately, the second ranking silverback-Kubaha quickly turned a dominant leader and succeeded the role as surrogate mother for all the 3 young gorillas, spending nights with them, hugging them during resting time grooming and also offering motherly kind of care. Masunzu got adequate care that made him grow up well. There are also many infants within the family that play with him including his brother Sakara. All this support enabled him learn how to live alone and gain techniques which he will apply when he matures. Masunzu encountered the most severe challenge especially when his family went across the River Susa but he was too afraid to also cross. Another young male gorilla remained behind with him for sometime while the 2 others lived near the other side waiting for them and later they crossed back and demonstrated to Masunzu hoping he could also follow. Later, Masunzu tried many times to get all the way across the river and after around half an hour he made it, all while the 4 others watched him. On arrival at the other side the young male Icyororo gave him a big and picked him up to continue their travel. Masunzu is the second individual encouraged to cross the river he did the same with group mate Fasha at one point.
In conclusion, all the 3 youngster gorillas are currently orphans and they are offering each other with much needed emotional support. Each gorilla family comes with its own unique stories and experiences that are worthy exploring while on safari.