Silverback Gorilla Imfura
Meaning "Elder" D.O.B. November 2, 2008
Who said silverbacks are grumpy and serious?
This is certainly not the case for subordinate silverback Imfura of Pablo’s group, who has an outgoing and fun personality. Even at 14 years of age, he still loves to play and is often surrounded by the younger members of the group, especially 1-year-old Uwacu, whom he loves to babysit.
Imfura, meaning “elder,” is the first child of high-ranking female Ishema, who passed away last year. Since Ishema’s death, Imfura has taken on a larger role caring for his two younger brothers, 8-year-old Kundurwanda and 4-year-old Umuryango, who have always looked up to their big brother.
The three brothers form a team that is well accepted in the group. Their bond helps them thrive, and they use it to achieve status and form alliances. Pablo’s group has just 17 gorillas, so the three of them make up a good percentage of the group!
Imfura has a solid relationship with his father, dominant silverback Gicurasi, who himself had a close partnership with Imfura’s mother before her death. The bond between father and son has been strong since 2011, when then-2-year-old Imfura found himself trapped in a poacher’s snare. He was terrified, screaming in fear as the gorillas around him tried to free him. Our tracker Jean Bosco Ntrenganya was able to cut the rope loose, allowing Imfura to escape, but it took two days for Gicurasi to calm down enough a veterinary intervention to be done to remove the rope that was still attached to the young gorilla’s foot. Imfura survived the trauma and became closer to his father.
Imfura is now a large silverback, with a typical silverback body structure. His chest beat is especially strong, and he doesn’t miss a chance to perform it in an effort to impress his group and outside females (see below). When Imfura starts showing off, however, Gicurasi gives a pig grunt to remind Imfura that he’s still a young gorilla.
Imfura is doing well in Pablo’s group. The group has been very stable in the last year so it has been a great opportunity for all of the group members to develop their social relationships.
Imfura, who will turn 14 this year, is developing his independence. More than ever, he likes spending time by himself. This is a critialphase in a male gorilla’s life as he must make an important decision – whether to stay in his natal group or strike out on his own. By practicing independence he is able to test his self-confidence while still maintaining the great relationships he has with the other group members – especially the females in the group. . Imfura’s relationship with the females will be an important factor in whether he decides to stay or go.. we look forward to seeing what path he chooses!
Update as of 10/12/2023
Imfura who is now 15 is the third-ranking silverback in Pablo’s group. While Imfura is still growing, we expect that to stop soon as he should reach his full body size this coming year.
As Imfura is continuing to grow, we have seen him challenging dominant silverback Ubquzu more often, and while he is not strong enough to overtake Ubwuzu, his efforts are not in vain as he is gaining important skills that he will need if he ever decided to leave his birth group and attempt to start his own family.
We are excited to see what the coming months will bring to Imfura during this important time in his life.