December 30, 2014
Gorilla group returns from Congo, monitoring resumes
Whenever habituated mountain gorilla groups shift their range to areas Fossey Fund trackers cannot go, it is stressful and worrying for our staff. This had been the case with Kuryama’s group, which disappeared from our monitoring areas and into Congo during April 2014; however, the Fossey Fund received an unexpected early Christmas present on Dec. 23, when trackers spotted the group for the first time in eight months.
On Dec. 23, trackers saw Kuryama’s group moving down from the Visoke peak and, during the following days, the group continued to move down the mountain and back to their usual home range. A couple days before the group was spotted, vocalizations were heard near the Congo border, but they were believed to be from Gushimira’s group—another dispersed group which had crossed the border.
We are happy to report that all the members of Kuryama’s group are doing well and are re-acclimating to the presence of human trackers. It has been rewarding for our field staff to see how individuals in the group have grown since the spring, especially the sub adults, juveniles and infant Impamo, who are all much bigger! Female Umutekano gave birth since the group was last in Rwanda, and trackers estimate the infant is between 4 and 5 months old.
The Fossey Fund has resumed routine behavior collection with the group, but there will be missing information from April 30-Dec. 23, 2014, including the exact birth date of Umutekano’s infant. The rest of the demography of the group appears to be unchanged, however.
The Fossey Fund is relieved and excited to have Kuryama’s group back and within our protection. With the group once again on the Rwandan side of the border, our trackers will be able to monitor them every day and help protect them from any potential harm, such as poaching or outbreak of disease.