What Makes Rising a Young Mountain Gorilla Challenging
Raising youngster gorillas in the wild is the hardest thing for most female gorillas and it can be worse when it comes to raising the twins! Like any Ape, Volcanoes’ large primates also encounter challenges. It is unfortunate that a 3 year toddler “Masunzu” has faced some bit of difficulties at his young stage, yet his journey also indicates how resilient, adaptable and caring Apes can be. Masunze’s mother “Ikaze” joined a new group in January this year. It is often that female gorillas transfer from one family to another, leaving their infants behind although this normally takes place when their babies are a bit grown up. At about 3 years of age, Masunzu was likely to be fully accustomed but unfortunately he was still very young to live independently. However, Masunzu was lucky that gorilla silverback “Isabukuru” took over the motherly responsibilities as substitute, thereby sharing his own night nest with the youngster, offering him warmth, grooming and safe guarding him. Besides caring for Masunzu, Isabukuru silverback is also helping another juvenile, whose mother joined the group in November last year. His night nest is shared with all the 2 youngsters.
At the beginning, Masunzu was depressed but lived next to Isabukuru-the assumed father who did his best by acting as substitute. He was a very kind hearted leader to the 2 other gorillas that were a bit older and whose mother had also left the family. Unfortunately, Isabukuru fell sick and later started becoming weaker than ever before. Sadly, in March he passed away and this was a big blow for Masunzu. But remarkably, the second ranking silverback in the family “Kubaha” quickly became a dominant leader in the group and even succeeded as a full surrogate for all the 3 youngsters, spending the nights with them, hugging them at the time of resting, grooming them and offering motherly types of caring.
Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund expected that Masunzu might be severely affected by the second loss but thanks to Kubaha silverback gorilla and the other mountain gorillas in the family; he has managed so far to access full care and support to grow up well. Besides, there are several youngsters in the family for him to play with and not to forget his brother Sakara. This overall support has enabled him to explore more on how to live as an individual and got some techniques which he will be necessary for his growth. One example of a challenge that Masunzu withstood was that time when his family transferred to the Susa River earlier this year but the youngster Masunzu was too sacred to cross. Another young male gorilla also remained back with Masunzu for some time while the 2 others lived next to the other side patiently waiting for them and then returned and demonstrated to Masunzu hoping he could follow. After all this, the youngster Masunzu tried many times to access all the way across the River and after around 30 minutes, he finally managed whereas the 4 other mountain gorillas watched him closely as he crossed. After he crossed to the other side, the young male Icyororo offered him a hug and picked him up to proceed with their journey. Masunzu is the second member Icyororo inspired to cross the River he did the same with the family mate Fasha at another time. Currently, all these 3 youngsters are orphans and obviously offering one another with much needed emotional support.
In conclusion, youngster gorillas face numerous challenges especially at earlier stages of growth. This limits them from reaching up to maturity stage. The newborn babies need maximum care and attention from the mother from which they can be in position to provide the basic necessities that will ensure their longer survival in the wild. Currently, there are fewer than 900 rare mountain gorillas in the entire world and only inhabited in the jungles of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda as well as the Virunga National Park.