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New mountain gorilla group reaches first year

By Veronica Vecellio, gorilla program senior advisor

The newest mountain gorilla group monitored by the Fossey Fund has just reached its one-year anniversary and we are happy to announce that it is doing well, with the recent arrival of two infants. This group is led by silverback Segasira, a son of the legendary silverback Titus, who was first studied by Dian Fossey.

Segasira had been living in a group with two other sons of Titus for many years, but saw the opportunity to form his own family a year ago, after the disintegration of a different group whose dominant silverback had died, leaving the females behind. Since Segasira was only the third-ranking silverback in his group, it was nice to see him take the initiative to form his own family with new females. It took some time for the group to stabilize but since then things have been going well.

Silverback Segasira

As the only silverback, Segasira has the important responsibility of keeping the group safe, and fending off encounters with other groups or with solitary males. Our field teams report that his behavior has evolved significantly since he became a group leader, as he makes sure not only to protect his family but to keep the females happy. Otherwise they could leave and join a different group or silverback if a good opportunity were to arise. So far, all interactions with neighboring groups have been peaceful.

New infants and other females

Taraja and Ubuhamya are the two adult females in the group and the mothers of the two new infants. Taraja gave birth to the group’s first infant on Feb. 22, and on May 29 Ubuhamya also welcomed a newborn. Both infants are females. The mothers are doing well and forming a strong bond, which will support them as they raise their infants together. Segasira spends a lot of time near the infants too.

Apart from the new mothers and infants, the group includes subadult females Ukwiyunga and Umutware, as well as 5-year-old Uhiriwe, who is Ubuhamya’s previous offspring. Ukiwyunga and Umutware already show interest in approaching silverback Segasira for mating, while Uhirwe is developing bonds with both her new sister and Segasira.

We are eagerly monitoring this small family and hoping for their continued growth. We especially look forward to the sub-adult females reaching maturity soon and potentially adding more infants.

Adopt Segasira: Available only in June 2023.