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Gorillas sink further into the fog

The political-social situation in the Congo puts the gorilla population in constant danger. How long does the pup who was one of the last to be named by Diane Fossey and became the leader of a large group, or at most his son and potential heir, have to live?

Mountain gorilla. From the Houston Zoo website
Mountain gorilla. From the Houston Zoo website

32-year-old Cantsbee is a silverback gorilla, a huge male who has been leading his family for 15 years.

Since his birth, Kentsby has been known to researchers, Diane Posey saw his birth and when she saw the tiny creature she cried out in amazement "can't be," (can't be) an exclamation that gave the newborn his name Kentsby is one of the last that Diane Posey saw and gave him a name. Diane Posey was murdered while the tiny creature grew up to be an exemplary family man. A family that holds 46 individuals, young males, females and children, that is about 6% of the entire population of mountain gorillas.

35 years have passed since the beginning of Diane Posey's work, Posey brought the gorillas to every room in Western society, the story of her life and death dramatized gave a boost to conservation and protection activities for what is considered one of the species closer to us.

Kentsby wanders with his family on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains, volcanoes covered in evergreen forest, the family of Kassof-Hegev is part of about 700 individuals of mountain gorillas, some of them live in the triangle of borders: Rwanda - Congo - Uganda, in the Virunga Mountains. Another part of the mountain gorilla population lives in the "impenetrable forest - Bawindi" in Uganda.

The political-social situation in the Congo puts the gorillas in constant danger, those who live in Rwanda and Uganda enjoy official protection and (relative) prosperity mainly because they are an "attraction" and a source of attraction for tourists and thus a source of income for the locals. The very fact that the groups of gorillas are inspected almost every day by tourists, researchers and forest inspectors, is a protection against all kinds of bad woodsmen.

But the close contact creates health problems, it turns out that gorillas have no defense mechanisms against human diseases, so much so that even a slight cold can kill a gorilla. Therefore, visitors are asked to keep their distance, wear protective masks and avoid prolonged stays around the gorillas. To be safe, there is veterinary surveillance and, if necessary, medical intervention to prevent diseases.

Because of the close monitoring and guarding, the direct harm to the gorillas has decreased significantly, but the indirect harm continues. Cutting down trees and clearing forests for agricultural purposes are activities that harm the gorillas' habitats and reduce them. The growth of the human population harms the remains of those closest to us.

Every male gorilla will try to reach the leadership of his family, most males will not succeed and will remain "stand-ins", when the dominant male weakens or leaves, the "stand-ins" will try to take the leadership. Leadership includes the right to mate and produce offspring as well as the duty to protect the family. Kentsby is getting older and will soon be pushed out of the "clan" he ruled without Egypt for a long time, one of his sons who is already developing a silver back is the "favorite" candidate named Gicurasi.

In the first step, Kentsby allows Gicursi the access to Miomach females, which creates a coalition of two strong males, a situation that strengthens the position of the great clan, a clan that has been known to researchers for 35 years. In the next step, Gicursi will inherit the Kentsby's place and will continue to lead the gorilla family through the forest paths. How long ?

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