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Thu, September 1, 2005

Gufasha gets acceptance in new group

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September 2005
Gufasha Gets Acceptance in New Large Group

Gufasha, a 7-year-old female from Beetsme's group, completed her first full month as part of Pablo's group, to which she transferred in July. Beetsme's group and Pablo's group are two of the groups DFGFI staff monitor regularly from the Karisoke Research Center.
This has been a traumatic time for Gufasha, since being accepted into a new group is never easy and has been made particularly trying for her by the sheer size of Pablo's group (now at 58 individuals).
The difficulties she has experienced are mainly due to the established females protecting their own interests. However, Gufasha has received support from silverback brothers Umurava and Turatsinze, both of whom protect her from other group members when necessary.
It is hoped that, with time, she will be come a fully integrated member of this incredible group. The group's size and composition continue to fascinate us as we watch these changes.

Sad news

There was sad news this month, with a new case of infanticide in Pablo's group as well. Agaciro, the 20-month-old infant of Nzeli, was found dead on August 6, believed to be the victim of infanticide by an adult male. Observations in the field have led us to suspect that this is the work of a lone silverback who has been harassing the group for a while.

Silver lining

On the positive side of this otherwise sad affair, the lone silverback has been identified as Mugire, who emigrated from one of the gorilla groups visited by tourists (called the Susa group) in 1999. Until now, his whereabouts had been unknown, but this new identification lets us know he has survived and gives us a small insight into the life of males after they leave their natal group to become solitary.
Although unsavory, this behavior is perfectly normal in gorilla society and was probably an attempt by the lone silverback to lure Nzeli away from the group by demonstrating that the group could not protect her and her offspring.

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