The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has been in the forests of Africa protecting mountain gorillas for six generations of their families and collecting details about their lives.
Below you will find birthdates, family history, and fun facts about one of the many families of mountain gorillas we have monitored for more than half a century. This “family tree” starts with matriarch Effie, who was first studied by Dian Fossey in 1967. Effie’s offspring include many of the gorillas we are still tracking today.
Effie’s family tree is only a small sampling of the gorillas we monitor in the wild.
Effie has more than 100 descendants and was first monitored by Dian Fossey in 1967. Several of the 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 was the mother of the famous silverback silverback Cantsbee. Some of her other sons also grew up to be the leaders of very large groups, including Isabukuru and Mafunzo. Nyandwi, her youngest daughter, was often seen helping her keep up with the group in the last days of her life.
Cantsbee had more than 25 offspring, though only eight are shown below. Dian Fossey 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 led the largest group of mountain gorillas ever recorded and holds the record for the longest leadership tenure by a male – more than 20 years.
Some of Cantsbee's Offspring
Mitimbili lived in the large Pablo group her entire life. She was always very close with her father and group leader, Cantsbee, as well as with her mother, Mukecuru. Her offspring are known for being 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 saw the young Tebuka sitting close to grandfather Cantsbee.