Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has seen lots of action in recent months, both joyful and mournful. In the circle of life, we’ve seen some dominant figures in the habituated gorilla community pass away and some new and exciting births.
In the Rushegura mountain gorilla family, popular and dominant Silverback Mwirima, meaning “darkness”, passed away on March 3. According to the park staff, Mwirima had distanced himself from the group a few weeks prior to his death. This is typical behavior of an aging silverback who can no longer keep up with the group. It has been reported by Uganda Wildlife Authority’s Dr. Patrick Atimnedi, Mwirima was suffering from a gum infection and was no longer eating.
Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, Conservation Through Public Health Founder and CEO, paid her respect to Mwirima: “Mwirima had become an icon of gorilla tourism in Uganda… because of his accommodating nature to tourists, where he often took his group to explore the lodges in Buhoma. He will be greatly missed.”
Another loss to note is that of Mishaya of the Mishaya mountain gorilla family, also in southern Bwindi. Mishaya was the lead silverback of his group and also the only silverback to ever be named after his group. He died at age 28, about 2 years after leaving his group due to coiling of his intestines, which was only discovered during his post mortem. Mishaya will be remembered as an active and friendly gorilla.
On a happier note, Bwindi has a few new births to celebrate! In early February, the Mubare group welcomed a new addition after mother Kyirinvi gave birth. The sex has not yet been determined, nor has it been named yet. This baby is very special as it is expected to be the first-born from Kanyonyi, the current lead silverback of the Mubare group.
The Oruzogo gorilla group, also in southern Bwindi, haswelcomed two new babies! This bodes well for the group as it is nearing the end of its habituation process where it will soon become open to tourists. The 16-gorilla group is led by dominant silverback, Tibirikwata. Under his watch, the group has nearly doubled in size during the habituation process. The currently unnamed babies were born to Birungi and Mutesi and will join two other youngsters in the group. The Oruzogo group will be very exciting to visit once they complete the habituation process. Stay tuned to hear more from them!