In honor of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Karisoke Research Center by Dian Fossey, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund was given the honor of participating in Rwanda’s annual gorilla-naming ceremony, Kwita Izina, held on Sept. 1. Fossey Fund President and CEO/Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Tara Stoinski attended the event and presented the choice for the name of the infant born to mother Kurudi last August.
The name chosen was “Macibiri” and it has a very special and historic meaning, because Dian Fossey’s nickname in the Kinyarwanda language was “Nyiramacibiri.”
Macibiri, who will turn 2 years old in August, has grown a lot in the past few months since she received her new name, both physically and in terms of her behaviors. She has generally been rather shy, staying close to her mother, Kurudi. But recently, Fossey Fund field staff have started to see her taking a few steps away from her mother, thus showing the beginnings of some independence.
Macibiri is the only infant in her group, so does not have playmates of her age to help entertain her. But she does like to spend time with an older juvenile named Ndizeye, though mother Kurudi always watches carefully, since it’s too soon for her to be unsupervised. The leading silverback of the group also likes to spend time near Macibiri and her mother.
Macibiri is really a historic gorilla, not only for her name but because she is a granddaughter of legendary silverback leader Titus, who was studied by Dian Fossey herself after he was born in 1974. Titus’ early life was in times of heavy poaching and when increased protection through Fossey’s founding of the Digit Fund began, he was able to continue with a very productive life, resulting in many children and grandchildren thriving today.