February 15, 2013
Gwiza Interacts With Titus’ Group; Bishushwe’s Status Still Unknown
Last week, Titus’ group encountered lone silverback Gwiza. Gwiza began interacting by a display of chest beating, and moved toward the group, eventually stopping within 70 meters of them. After spending some time observing Gwiza, dominant silverback Rano of Titus’ group was aided by the entire group in chasing Gwiza away. The interaction did not result in any transfers or injuries. In fact, after chasing Gwiza for some distance, Rano took the females in another direction and left a group of young silverbacks and juvenile male Segasira to continue chasing him. Field staff report that Gwiza looked frightened and was yawning, which can be a sign of stress.
The interaction was not particularly unusual. Gwiza has a history with the group, even following them for long periods of time. What interested Fossey Fund staff most about the interaction was the opportunity to confirm that Gwiza is still traveling alone. Female Bishushwe, from Urugamba’s former group, continues to travel alone with her infant as far as we know. We have seen her trails but have not been able to locate her since Feb. 5. Since she is traveling in the area where Gwiza also ranges, we thought it was possible she might have joined up with him. However, from Gwiza’s interaction with Titus, we saw that this is clearly not the case.
At the end of January, another lone silverback, Tuyizere, was also seen in the area where Bishushwe has been ranging. We wonder if Bishushwe has encountered him. It is unusual for a female to spend much time alone in the forest, so we expect that sooner or later we will see her again in the company of a lone silverback or another group.