The newest mountain gorilla group: Mafunzo’s group, has a new baby born.
Taraja, Mafunzo’s wife, gave birth to another infant on November 30th, the Dian Fossey Foundation said in a tweet.
Taraja’s previous infant Ishimwe is still very young and stays close by Taraja’s side
Mafunzo’s group was first seen on January 27, 2014 and composed of young silverback Mafunzo—who turned 18 on June 2, with two females, Taraja and Umusatsi.
Great news from Mafunzo's group! Taraja gave birth to another infant on November 30th! 🎉🎊 Taraja's previous infant Ishimwe is still very young and stays close by Taraja's side. (🎥: Winnie Eckardt) pic.twitter.com/h9DpnQGAY3
— Fossey Gorilla Fund (@SavingGorillas) December 4, 2018
Since then, the group, with new members, has endured many stressful situations.
Silverbacks as young as Mafunzo are much more vulnerable to interactions with lone silverbacks and dominants from other groups, but based on Mafunzo’s genetic and family history, he has the potential to become a long-term leader.
Not only does he come from the largest mountain gorilla group ever observed (allowing him to witness an example of strong leadership from an early age), but his two brothers, Cantsbee and Isabukuru, are also successful dominant silverbacks; Cantsbee has led Pablo’s group for more than 20 years.
Despite Mafunzo’s near-perfect background for leadership, he experienced difficulty keeping his group together during 2014, and since 2015, it has not proven to be any easier, despite his tough grip on his leadership and protection.
After the group formed, it became a predictable target for solitary males and other groups. Fossey Fund trackers witnessed a high number of interactions between Mafunzo’s group and other groups or solitary males, and there were likely even more interactions that they not have seen.
During interactions, Mafunzo’s main strategy was to face any rivals alone, leaving the females at a safer distance.
This has resulted in multiple days where the females were found vulnerably alone and under visible stress. The young silverback’s other strategy has been to avoid interactions altogether by traveling many kilometers in search of a safer location.
Fortunately, despite constant travel and stress, the group has seen some successes, such as the transfer of female Nzeli from Isabukuru’s group to Mafunzo’s group.