This year 24 baby gorillas will get their new names at Kwita Izina on September 24, and 10 of those babies are from groups that the Fossey Fund monitors! Do you want to learn more about the babies? Read on….
This male infant was born into Mafunzo’s group on July 5, 2019. He is the youngest in the group of 10 gorillas. Mafunzo is the dominant and only mature male, which means that he is definitely the father. Mother Pasika has two other babies, but because she moved to Mafunzo’s group in January 2018, this baby has no siblings in his group. There are five other juvenile gorillas with whom he often plays and explores.
This baby was born into Musilikale’s group on August 8, 2019. His mom Isaro has changed groups four times, only joining Musilikale’s group in 2017. Isaro has two more offspring in other groups. There are 22 gorillas in Musilikale’s group, of which 10 are juveniles and infants, so this baby has a lot of opportunities to play and socialize. He is one year old now and still travels on his mother’s back quite frequently. Mom Isaro gets along well with the three silverbacks in the group.
The three infants of Kuryama’s group
The biggest surprise of 2020 came from Kuryama’s group. The group crossed the border and spent 10 months on the Congolese side of the Virungas, where we were unable to monitor them. When we finally relocated the group, we were pleased to see three new babies in the group. The group has stayed safe, reflecting the level of protection of mountain gorillas across the three countries where they live.
The three infants are in good health and we were able to estimate their birthdates based on their size. Faida infant has an estimated birthday of August 21, 2019. This baby is the first living offspring of Faida, who lost her first born a few years ago and only joined Kuryama’s group last year. We estimate that Mahirwe infant was born on September 21, 2019. This is the fifth infant of Mahirwe, a senior female living in the group since 2001. Mahirwe is also the mother of dominant silverback Igihozo, which will ensure protection for both mother and baby. Kanama’s infant has an estimated birthday of October 21, 2019. This is Kanama’s second offspring, but the first baby lives in another group, as Kanama only moved to Kuryama’s group last year.
Originally a member of Pablo’s group, lone silverback Mutobo formed his own group in April 2019. A few months later, on September 12, Akaramata gave birth to this infant, her first baby. Although this is the first baby of Mutobo’s group, we know from the timing that the father is the dominant gorilla of her former group—Mafunzo. Luckily enough, Mutobo did not do the math and has no idea. He is a very caring father for the little one. Mutobo’s group is growing—there are currently six gorillas in the group, including a newborn who arrived in 2020.
A group formed by silverback Urugwiro in September 2019 welcomed its first infant on May 11, 2020. The mother is 33-year-old Mudakama, who has given birth to five other babies, all of whom live in other groups. Her last baby was born in 2013; it was a surprise to see her give birth again after so many years.
This group faced a number of challenges during its formation, including interactions with other groups and transfers of females. Mudakama herself changed groups three times during the period when this infant was conceived, so the paternity is not quite clear. Including the newborn, this new group now contains four gorillas, including two adult females and the silverback.
This baby was born into Musilikale’s group on May 11, 2020. The mother is 16-year-old Ubufatanye, who has two previous offspring, both of whom live in the group. These other youngsters are only 5 and 3 years old, making this the quickest interval between offspring ever recorded among gorillas—three babies in less than six years! We are observing an interesting family dynamic, as the older siblings are still very close to both mom and the newborn.
At just 2 years old when the newborn arrived, young brother Ingirakamaro was observed sticking close to his mother, looking for attention, even though his mother was busy with the newborn. He soon adapted to the new situation, however, and began staying closer to his 5-year-old sister, Tabaro. Little Ingirakamaro also began following silverback Musilikale more closely in a bid to get more attention.
Isangano was just 9 years old when she gave birth to this infant, her first offspring, on May 27, 2020. The newborn is a member of Pablo’s group, a large family of 25 gorillas that has been studied since 1967, when it was known simply as “Group 5.” Because the group includes several males, the baby’s paternity is uncertain. Isangano has two sisters in the group: Ubukombwe is just six but has already shown an interest in babysitting; while Ishema, Isangano’s older sister, has three offspring of her own. This large family will provide support and protection for the newborn.
Ishyaka gave birth on June 21, 2020—Father’s Day in the United States. The baby belongs to Mutobo’s group, which is only about a year and a half old. The group is growing, despite the recent transfer of some of its females, as well as interactions with other groups. Mutobo is now the father of two infants in the six-member group.
Fifteen-year-old Ishyaka is the daughter of famous female Poppy, who was one of the gorillas first studied by Dian Fossey. As such, she is part of a historic line of important females. She joined Mutobo’s group in August 2019, after first living in four other groups.
Check back tomorrow to learn more about another baby gorilla!