For five generations of gorillas, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has been in the forests of Africa protecting and collecting data. Below you will find birth dates, family history, and fun facts about a small portion of the gorillas we have been monitoring for over half a century. This “family tree” starts with Effie, who Dian Fossey studied and includes many of the gorillas we are actively tracking today.
Effie’s family tree is only a small sampling of the gorillas we monitor in the wild.
Effie has over 100 descendants and was monitored by Dian Fossey herself. Five of the nine gorilla groups currently monitored by the Fossey Fund are led by an Effie family member. Dian wrote that “Effie endowed her infants with love and security during their formative years and a keen self confidence that carried over into their adulthood.”
Puck lived to be 38 years old and was first observed by Dian Fossey, when she was born on Dec. 15, 1968. She is the mother of dominant silverback Cantsbee and her youngest offspring, Puck’s sons Cantsbee, Isabukuru and Mafunzo grew up to be the leaders of very large groups. Nyandwi, her youngest offspring, was often seen helping her keep up with the group in the last days of her life.
Cantsbee has over 25 offspring but only 8 are shown below! Dian mistakenly thought Cantsbee’s mother Puck was a male up until she gave birth to her first offspring: “Upon hearing the news from an incredulous student…I exclaimed, ‘It can’t be!’ Thus Puck’s first infant gained the name Cantsbee.” Cantsbee leads the largest group of mountain gorillas ever recorded and holds the record for the longest consistent group leadership.
Mitimbili has remained in the same gorilla group her entire life. She is still very close with her father Cantsbee and mother Mukecuru. All of her offspring are males and are very independent. Mitimbili’s first infant, Ubwuzu, is confirmed to be Isabukuru’s son from genetic testing.
Tebuka’s name means “be quick” and was chosen because he started walking independently from his mother at an early age. He lives in Pablo’s group, the largest group of gorillas living in the Virunga mountains of Rwanda. Trackers often see little Tebuka sitting close to grandfather Cantsbee.