Batéké National Park - Gabon
In our last edition of Wildcry we brought you news that western lowland gorilla Mbwambe, Djala’s daughter, was still at a private wildlife sanctuary called Le Parc de la Lékédi.
June this year saw an exciting new development when Damian Aspinall and his wife Victoria travelled to Gabon to oversee her transfer together with silverback Rapha, and young female Dikélé, to our Gorilla Protection Project in Batéké Plateau National Park.
The transfer went well and the three gorillas were soon investigating their new surroundings. They are currently on the island which had been home to Djala and his son Djongo.
Within the first few days Rapha saw Djala and Djongo on the mainland and they exchanged a few chestbeats and strut displays, which is normal behaviour for male gorillas. Over time Djala and Djongo have extended their range and have been seen near the island less often.
Overall the three have continued to adapt well to the change and are now moving throughout the island, discovering and exploiting new patches of Aframomum. This is a herbaceous perennial plant that gorillas in the wild consume with great enthusiasm. It is believed to contain substances with powerful anti-inflammatory properties that may protect gorillas' health.
Of the three young Dikélé is the most at ease and is in great shape. She is very active and quite often seen on trees looking for ants.
Rapha has become more relaxed over time and has lost some excess weight now he is able to enjoy more freedom and space.
Mbwambe has always been quieter and is very careful collecting her food and disappearing into the bushes to eat. However she is now more active and on a number of occasions our team in Gabon have witnessed her ‘stealing’ fruits from Rapha.
It is too early to predict how this group will progress. They may bond into a ‘family’ group or, in time, they may go their own way and ultimately join or form new groups of their own. For now though, they will continue to acclimatise on the island that has become their home.
Lesio Louna Reserve – Congo
As those of you who follow our social media will already be aware, in October we relocated four young silverback gorillas to a 34 acre island on the edge of the Lesio-Louna Reserve. This is the first repatriation of captive born gorillas back home to the Republic of Congo.
The move will allow tourists to view gorillas in their natural habitat and subsequently will maintain the tourism revenue necessary to fund the protection and management of the Lesio-Louna Reserve. From a welfare perspective, the island will provide a better and larger environment for the gorillas than can be provided by captive situations elsewhere.
The four half-brothers , aged between fifteen and eighteen, were all born at Howletts. They share the same father, Kifu, who was also born at the park in 1987, and they have lived together all their lives.
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