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Silverback Kirahure not found since Sunday
Wednesday, September 02, 2015

On Monday, Fossey Fund trackers were unable to locate dominant silverback Kirahure, who has been recovering from wounds on his head since the beginning of August (see earlier blogs). He had been seen on Sunday, when he engaged in normal activities, though was still quite thin. Kirahure is the leader of Kuryama's group, one of the mountain gorilla groups followed daily by our staff.

Kirahure on Aug. 31, 2015Today and yesterday, despite intensive searching, he was still not found. His group was calm, with silverback Vuba, who is of similar age, in place. Today's search involved an extra large team of 24 people, including nine Karisoke trackers and 15 additional national park authority personnel.

Regarding the former members of Gushimira's group (see previous blogs), the three dispersed members have also still not been located. Four of the members are still with new silverback Giraneza (with the final member still in Ntambara's group). We are tracking the new group from a much greater distance than usual, due to the aggressive reactions of Giraneza to human presence.

Following Giraneza's progress
Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fossey Fund trackers are still carefully following the members of Gushimira's group, since their leader was killed in an interaction with formerly lone silverback Giraneza. Giraneza has since taken over at least part of the group. Initially, three of Gushimira's females were found with him and today our trackers found that a fourth female (Kurinda) had joined him. So now his group includes Pasika, Iterambere, Inziza, and Kurinda.

Giraneza and new groupHowever, another female, Kanama, and her infant Kwigira, were still not found, nor was juvenile Sabato, although yesterday Sabato had been seen with Kurinda, before Kurinda joined up with Giraneza. Our biggest concern is for Kanama and her infant, who is probably avoiding the new group in order to protect the infant.

Update on Gushimira's group
Tuesday, August 25, 2015

 After the death of silverback group leader Gushimira yesterday, formerly lone silverback Giraneza today was still with the same three females he was with yesterday (Pasika, Iterambere, and Inziza). His actions, such as charging and grunting when our trackers approached, indicated he was nervous.

Dispersed members of Gushimira's groupAs for the other members of Gushimira's group (who were not seen yesterday), our trackers have located them but their situation is still quite uncertain. One of the females (Kunga) was found in Ntambara's group (where she had lived before joining Gushimira earlier this year). The other two adult females (Kurinda and Kanama), along with the juvenile male (Sabato) and infant (Kwigira) were found on their own, nervous and avoiding our trackers. They were moving in the direction of Ntambara's group, which they could join. But it's also possible they will be found by Giraneza first.

Tomorrow we will have field staff following all the dispersed gorillas, to be prepared for any developments that may occur.

Gushimira killed in fight with lone silverback
Monday, August 24, 2015

The Fossey Fund is saddened to report the death of dominant silverback Gushimira. When our trackers arrived at his group this morning, three of his group’s females were found with well-known lone silverback Giraneza, but Gushimira – along with five other group members – was not seen. In the afternoon, our trackers found Gushimira’s body. There were open wounds on his back, a sign that he had been killed by another silverback.

Our trackers also located an interaction site, and its trail led to Giraneza. By reconstructing the evidence, it seems clear that Giraneza was responsible for killing Gushimira, and that the incident occurred last night.

Last week Gushimira had some health issues, which made him weak for several days (see previous blogs below). Karisoke staff were monitoring him closely, and although he had been recovering, it is likely he was still not in full health.

Gushimira group formed in 2013

Born in Pablo’s group, Gushimira was 19 years old and had formed his group in February 2013, when he gained some females from Ugenda’s group. The new group then spent two years trying to establish its home range, before finally settling in the area previously used by Ugenda’s group (which had dispersed into various groups this year after the death of its dominant silverback). Due to its location and the calm nature of Gushimira, the group then became one of those also visited by tourists, who are led by park authorities.

Right now we are most concerned about the missing group members, including an infant, a juvenile male, and three females, some of whom may be pregnant. We hope to be able to recover Gushimira’s body today, so that a necropsy can be performed.

Our field staff will be monitoring this situation closely. We will post any additional information here as soon as it becomes available.

To read more about about lone silverback Giraneza, click here.

Silverback Gushimira shows improvement
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Silverback Gushimira, who had been missing from his group after exhibiting some health issues, has been back in his group the past two days and seems to be improving. Although he still appears weak and has a cough, his condition is better than yesterday, so we hope for continued improvement. He has been observed by Fossey Fund staff and researchers, as well as a veterinarian from Gorilla Doctors, who will monitor his condition.

Gushimira with group last fall


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