February 03, 2012
Lone Silverback Drama Continues for Inshuti
The lone silverback drama involving Inshuti and his group has continued on through the end of this week, reports the Fossey Fund’s Karisoke Research Center field staff. The dominant silverback truly cannot catch a break from the lone males ranging in the forest tenaciously seeking out females to steal. Yesterday, Karisoke researcher Winnie Eckardt, PhD. and research assistant Samedi Muyco witnessed an interaction that lasted from early morning to late afternoon and had the females of the group shaking with fear. This particular interaction involved Giraneza, an impressive lone silverback who split from Pablo’s group four years ago when he was just 13 years old.
But Giraneza wasn’t the only lone silverback threatening Inshuti’s group on Thursday. Also on the trail was Tuyizere, the lone male who has been making frequent appearances in the Karisoke-monitored groups throughout the last several months. When the field team arrived, Tuyizere was interacting with the group, but was quickly deterred by the team’s presence and lingered about 100 meters from the rest of the gorillas for the duration of the afternoon. Giraneza more than made up for Tuyizere’s reluctance with a constant onslaught of displays toward the group leader. The mammoth Inshuti responded with intimidating displays of his own and charged Giraneza multiple times throughout the data collection period.
Young female Nyandwe “was very interested in going with Giraneza” said Eckardt. "She was frequently looking at the lone silverback. Inshuti had the hardest time to move her up and away” from the intruder. Eckardt reported that the group leader was working hard to move his females higher up the mountain for most of the day, but Nyandwe took her time and was noticeably lagging behind. Eckardt observed one instance where Nyandwe was keeping an eye on both males. When she saw that Inshuti had moved higher up with the rest of the group, she started making her move towards Giraneza. But, Inshuti caught her and moved quickly back down to guard his female. Nyandwe feigned disinterest in the lone silverback and followed Inshuti back up to the group. And it wasn’t only Nyandwe that had an eye for Giraneza. Female Taraja was also very interested in going with him, but with her young offspring still in tow, she likely reasoned it wasn’t a good idea to attempt to transfer at this time.
Field Data Coordinator John Ndayambaje reported that Inshuti’s group was peaceful this afternoon and no lone silverbacks were found on their trail. Hopefully this will mark an end to the incessant intruders and Inshuti will have time to heal from his wounds.
Jessica Burbridge, Field Communications Officer