Staff Observes Unusual Gorilla Interactions

January 2007

Staff Observes Unusual Gorilla Interactions!

Karisoke field staff witnessed an exciting start to the New Year with an interaction between Beetsme’s and Pablo’s group – an incredible 83 gorillas all together. On Jan. 2, field staff arrived at Beetsme’s group and found silverbacks from both groups interacting together. Each silverback was in a stiff-legged strut stance – a posture used by silverbacks to display their strength (see photo).

Later that day it was discovered that Ntobo, an adult female, had left Pablo’s group and was associating with males in Beetsme’s group. After only a few days in Beetsme’s group, Ntobo, Bwenge, a young silverback, and Isaro, a young female, were not observed to be present in Beetsme’s group and were later located traveling as small sub-group. Karisoke field staff continue to follow these three individuals.

Ntobo is the second adult female to leave Pablo’s group in recent months. In October 2006, Bishushwe left this group together with Turatsinze, a silverback, and Musilikale, a blackback (both also from Pablo’s group) and later transferred to Beetsme’s group. She stayed in Beetsme’s group for almost three weeks before leaving with Bwenge for a couple of weeks, then transferring yet again, this time to Shinda’s group. Surprisingly, Bwenge then returned to his natal group — Beetsme.

The Karisoke staff is waiting to see if Ntobo, Isaro and Bwenge will continue to travel together, or if Bwenge will once again lose his females to another group, and if so will he be able to return again to Beetsme’s group?

Ntobo was born into the Susa group on Oct. 26, 1991, and later transferred to Pablo’s group, at 5 years old. Sadly she has no surviving infants. Her first infant, Urugero, when only 2-1/2years old, was accidentally killed when a silverback, Cantsbee, fell from a tree while feeding. Her second infant died at the age of 2, after becoming separated from his mother and group in November 2006.