February 6, 2013
Female Bishushwe Seen, Still Travelling Alone With Infant
Adult female Bishushwe has been traveling alone in the forest with her infant, 1-year-old Amatwara, since Jan. 29, when the rest of Urugamaba’s former group merged with Ntambara’s group following the death of their dominant silverback.
We were very concerned about Bishushwe, as it is highly unusual for a female to travel alone in the forest, and she was clearly very stressed. In order to continue monitoring her, we created a special team dedicated to locating her every day. However, once the team locates Bishushwe, they have special instructions to remain at quite a distance from her and not to continue following her as we usually do with the gorillas we monitor. This special protocol is in place because Bishushwe appears to be stressed by human observers since she began traveling alone.
Bishushwe was seen by trackers on Jan. 31, and after a couple of days of only finding her trails, she was again seen on Feb. 3. She was scared and ran away from trackers, but both she and the infant appeared to be healthy.
By following her fresh traces, we can see that she has visited the site of Urugamba’s death every single day. Field staff were always aware of a particularly close bond between the two gorillas, and we are touched and saddened to see Bishushwe’s response to his death.