Tue, March 14, 2017

Cantsbee still missing, another silverback ill

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The big daily search for elderly mountain gorilla silverback Cantsbee has still not uncovered any evidence of him, so for now our staff has stopped this special effort. Of course everyone holds on to hope that he may come back again and since we have 10 teams in the forest every day protecting gorillas, we are always still looking for him. But since Cantsbee is past the normal life expectancy for mountain gorillas, we won’t be surprised if he is not found. Meanwhile, his group is seeing changes, as they adjust to Cantsbee’s absence. Mainly this includes temporary subgrouping, new alliances among the other silverbacks, and even a group member leaving.

We are especially concerned right now about another leading silverback, 24-year-old Isabukuru. He is actually Cantsbee’s half-brother and among the largest of our silverbacks.  Isabukuru is known for helping to take care of youngsters in his group, but he currently looks very unhealthy and is showing significant weakness. He has been visited by veterinarians from Gorilla Doctors several times recently, who have also collected samples for testing. Tomorrow, he will be visited again by the veterinarians.

Isabukuru
Isabukuru on March 14 2017

Other group news

At this time of year, the gorilla groups tend to wander out of the national park, in search of bamboo shoots that are a tasty treat for them. Titus’s group has been going out of the park almost daily recently, and our trackers had to herd them back into the park when they went too far. Then Kuryama’s group came out in the same area, causing an interaction between the two groups! Luckily, this was very peaceful, with infants from the two groups playing together and the silverbacks seeming to be unconcerned.  This is likely in part because these two groups were formerly a single group —called Beetsme’s group — and so many of the adult group members are familiar with each other.

On a positive note, the Ntambara group, currently led by silverback Twibuke, which has recently returned again after ranging over the border in Congo, gained a new female while there. However, this female is not from any habituated group, so is very scared of our trackers. Our staff are keeping a good distance away for now, as she gradually gets integrated into the group and becomes used to the presence of human observers in the area.

Unidentified female from Ntambara's group
Female from Ntambara’s group