Bwindi loses second Silverback as Rushegura's dominant male passes away

The Far Horizons is sad to report the passing of one of the greatest silverback gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest - Mwirima of the Rushegura group.

Mwirima passed away yesterday, Monday 3rd March 2014, exactly one month after Mishaya, the dominant male from another mountain gorilla family, was found dead after a sudden intestinal illness.

Mwirima was the lead Silverback in the popular Rushegura group, and famously featured in the YouTube video 'Touched by a wild mountain gorilla'. The film was made one of our clients on safari with The Far Horizons, when he stumbled across the gorillas over breakfast at his forest camp.

The death of a Silverback can threaten the delicate social fabric of gorilla populations - sometimes in the most violent of ways. Infants are especially at risk - as male gorillas vying for the position of dominant male will often commit infanticide as they try to take control of the group. For a species with less than 900 individuals left in the wild, this possibility could mean tragic setbacks in the conservation of these magnificent creatures.

In the case of the death of Mishaya last month, the veterinary team known as the Gorilla Doctors have recently observed that, much to their surprise, a blackback called Mwine has taken over leadership of that group, keeping the females together and protecting the infants.

Conservationists and tour operators alike are all hoping for a peaceful transition of power for both the Rushegura and Mishaya families over the coming months.