Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obituary for Shinda the Silverback

This from the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund website.

Shinda had been observed to be unwell for about two weeks when, on Nov. 22, our trackers could not find him within his group, probably because he was too weak to catch up with them. The field team began patrolling the area around the group and finally found him on the morning of Nov. 24, but he had already died.

Since 2007, Shinda had been observed on other occasions to be very weak and remained behind the group. However, in all those episodes he was always able to recover, as well as to maintain his dominance. We were all hoping that he could do it this time too.

Shinda was 31 years old and still the dominant silverback of his group. He had led the group since it was formed in 1993 (after the split of an older group, called Group 5). He was observed at birth by Dr. Dian Fossey in 1977 and later grew to become a large, handsome adult with strong leadership skills. In 1993, when staff returned to Karisoke following an evacuation due to the civil war, they found that Shinda’s brother Ziz, who had led Group 5 since the death of Beethoven, was dead. Some of the females had followed Shinda, while the others remained with Cantsbee and Pablo in what came to be known as Pablo’s Group. Shinda maintained dominance of his group until his death and presided over its growth. He had his tender side as well, and was often observed spending hours grooming his favorite female, the elderly, one-eyed Pandora.

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