Normally, female mountain gorillas spend their entire lives in groups, relying on an adult male silverback to protect their young. But when Pasika’s group dispersed after the death of the silverback last May, she didn’t move to another group, which is what would normally happen. Instead, for seven months, she traveled alone in the forest with her 1-year-old infant, Mashami.
At the end of December, Pasika was seen again by one of our tracking teams, but this time she was with a lone silverback and Mashami was not with them. We presumed the infant to have died. Our field staff identified the lone silverback as Turatsinze, who has been on his own since 2006. But this liaison did not last long.
In January, our trackers found that Pasika had joined a well-established group, led by silverback Mafunzo. Now, Mafunzo is often seen near Pasika and makes displaying behaviors from time to time to show off his strength to her.
Mafunzo is among the largest of the gorillas that we know and his body mass is very impressive. Pasika is now the eighth female of the group and seem seems to get along well with two of the other females, Inziza and Igitangaza, with whom she was familiar from past groups.
Mafunzo’s group ranges in the slopes of Mount Bisoke and frequently moves to the Congo side of the mountain, where our Rwandan trackers cannot follow. This leads to a gap in our monitoring and sometimes females transfer while in Congo. But we hope Pasika will stay in this group so that we can follow her again once the groups returns.