Gorilla trackers meet up with lone silverback Inshuti

Twenty-nine-year-old silverback Inshuti has had an interesting life, spending most of his adulthood as a lone silverback, though for some periods of time he managed to have a small group of his own. This week our trackers accidentally saw him in the forest two times, and he seemed well and acting normally.

Inshuti’strong temperament has made him one of the most difficult gorillas for our staff to track, but also one of the most remarkable to observe. Among the many gorillas the Fossey Fund has followed long-term, Inshuti is known for his perseverance and physical resistance; no other observed gorilla has survived such severe injuries nor instilled the same amount of fear among other gorillas.

Inshuti was born in 1988 in Group 5, one of the historic groups habituated by Dian Fossey. The group split into Pablo’s and Shinda’s groups in 1993 and while in Shinda’s group, Inshuti developed a peculiar temperament. His change in disposition was possibly encouraged by the presence of several other adult males coexisting in the same group. In 2003, when he was 15, he left to become a solitary male. That’s when he became feared, not only by humans but also by gorillas of the neighboring groups.

LSB 20_April_2017
Inshuti seen on April 20

In 2007 he finally succeeded in forming a group and it seemed to do well for a few years, with females moving in and a few births. But an unfortunate series of events starting in 2012 led to the females leaving the group, until by 2014 Inshuti was once again alone. Yet, he remained determined to start a group, kept the same core home range, and continued to interact with existing groups, so our trackers were used to seeing him.
But more recently, probably due to his age, these interactions had decreased and we had not seen him very often, until last week. So we were happy to see Inshuti still doing well, despite his years of challenges.