Uganda Welcomes New Mountain Gorilla Births in Bwindi

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Nshongi Baby Gorilla

As nations around the world grapple with the thought of how to sail clear of the “unprecedented times” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (the novel coronavirus), and while airline fleets around the world, for the first time in more than half a century remain stationed, the travel and tourism industry faces one of its toughest challenges.

However, this widespread essence of somber doesn’t seem to be the case in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, as Uganda welcomed two (2) healthy mountain gorilla babies during lockdown.

Details of the births were later on confirmed in a statement released today by UWA.

“The infant gorillas thought to have been born on April 25 and May 1, 2020 have caused excitement in both families. Mother Kabagyenyi and Silverback Bweza and Nshongi are tightly guarding the baby mountain gorilla, while in the Muyambi group, silverback Muyambi and unnamed mother are soothing and warming their new family member,” the statement read in part.

We are yet to know the sexes

It is normal for mountain gorillas to be very protective of the mother and her little one at the birth of every new baby. This is largely why the sexes of both babies remain unknown, but the daily team of trackers and vets who monitor the mountain gorilla families will reveal more details about both infants in the future. This will however take a while as the mothers and silverbacks often take a while to loosen up the tight security.

The Nshongi mountain gorilla group is located in the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park called Rushaga and was the first group to be habituated in this area.

Muyambi mountain gorilla family can be found foraging around the northern and perhaps busiest region of the park called Buhoma. As of today, it is the newest group to have been habituated and opened to gorilla tourism in Uganda. It was opened up to tourists on gorilla tracking safaris in 2019.

About the two mountain gorilla mothers

For both mothers, this is their first baby, and we all know how special that feels like, judging by the DNA similarity between humans and the gentle giants.

The birth in the Muyambi family, a name the group gets from an adult silverback, comes as a surprise because the mother had not even been named yet. She is recorded to have joined the Muyambi family from a wild mountain gorilla group, after the Muyambi silverback had split from Mubare; the very first mountain gorilla group to ever be habituated and opened up to tourists, to form his own family.

On the other side of this forested gorilla kingdom, the baby born to 10-year old Mother Kabagyenyi of the Nshongi family is a normal occurence, at least for mountain gorilla standards.

“Kabagyenyi joined the Nshongi family from a wild group when she was a sub adult. Later, the Silverback called Bweza, who is the head of Nshongi group, started mating with her,” Hangi Bashir, UWA’s Communication Manager elatedly revealed.

At the time of its discovery, the Nshongi mountain gorilla group had at least 35 individuals. This large group has unfortunately split over the years, leaving only 10 members today, including the new infant.

About Mountain Gorilla births:

On average, female mountain gorillas begin to produce little ones at the age of 10. They are able to carry one or two babies at a time and give birth after a 8.5-month gestation period; quite similar to the 9-month’s human pregnancy. In general, mountain gorilla mothers will bear between two to six offspring in a lifetime. Unlike their powerful mothers and fathers, newborns are tiny, weighing on average, four pounds and are only able to cling to their mothers’ fur. The infant will ride on mom’s backs from the age of four months through the first two or three years of their lives.

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