Category Archives: Research

Studying Mt Tshiaberimu’s remaining gorillas

Hi this is Jean-Claude,

With the support of the Gorilla Organization and in collaboration with my colleagues and friends at Tshiaberimu, I’m now studying for a master’s degree at Kinshasa University. Why am I doing this? Well, as you all know, the gorillas of Tshiaberimu are under great threat. The number living here fell from 22 to 14 between 2008 and 2009 and for the whole of last year we were unable to maintain complete control of the forest due to the permanent presence of soldiers, who were poaching and even killing people.

Because of this, I have decided to investigate the viability of this small remaining group of gorillas and analyse how the habitat here can help push numbers up. Are they able to enjoy a good quality diet here, for example? Could infectious diseases affect the gorillas? Is it possible to introduce some females? With these questions in mind, I will be conducting a large amount of research, not just for my masters programme, but also for a possible PhD.

I’m very grateful to all of those who are supporting my studies in different ways. In Kinshasa, the Gorilla Organization’s liaison officer Sebu Mugangu has promised to help me with my IT and computer maintenance skills and to help organise local transportation.

Imelda, who is studying for a degree in psychology and who has been following with interest my work with gorillas and local communities has, said she will help by producing a special radio broadcast to raise awareness of the gorillas and help change local people’s attitude to them.

Also, Vital Katembo, who was the first project manager at Tshiaberimu and who is now the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) representative in the DRC, has said I can stay with him and his family in Kinshasa.

I will be sure to keep you all up to date with news of my studies. Thank you!


Hello, this is Tuver.

I have just returned from a visit to Mount Tshiabirimu and have some news from the rangers about one of my favourite gorillas Mukokya – a lively young black back male.

You may remember reading on the blog about Mukokya’s sad year last year….. In February his elderly father Nzanzu, with whom he spent all his time, passed away. For a while he travelled alone, but he soon found friendship with the silverback Kanindo. This new pair spent a number of months supporting each other but in July the rangers at MT T were devastated to report the death of Kanindo and Mukokya was again alone.

But since 25 February 2010, the rangers at Mt T have been thrilled to see Mukokya has joined two other gorillas and become part of the Katsavara family. The family is led by the silverback Katsavara and is also home to adult female Mwengesyali – Mukokya’s mother!

Odilon Kataomba, the Gorilla Organization’s head of research at Mount Tshiaberimu is encouraged by the strengthening of this gorilla family – ‘it bodes well for the future’ he tells me.

With so few gorillas remaining at Mt Tshiaberimu their long term survival hangs in the balance, but the changing dynamics of the gorilla groups and the strengthening of their families gives us all hope.

Monkeys survey

Hi This is Vhosi

Gorillas are not the only primates who live at Mount Tshiabirimu. Their monkey cousins live there too, but nobody knows very much about how many there are or where they actually live.

Starting last week a research team is involved in an expedition at Mount Tshiabirimu for a monkey survey. Researchers will be able to determine the monkeys’ abundance and their distribution in the gorillas’ habitat at Mount Tshiabirimu.


Some people have been saying that the monkeys are greedy and eat too much food, which risks creating hunger for the other primates. We think that after a year we will know more about how many monkeys there are in the gorilla habitat, what they eat and how they are distributed there.

Thank’s for your donation

 Hi,This is Tuver

On behalf of Mount Tshiaberimu guards ,ICCN staff in this sector of Virunga national Park and Gorilla Organization Staff,i thank’s all off you for all donations we gate via wildlifedirect.

We are happy to continue our work and protecting this gorilla habitat whith your support.

Thank’s and we still need your help and more support.

Tuver Wundi

The Gorilla Organization Communications Manager

Years of turmoil have stretched things beyond their limits

Hi,this is Vhosi

The war in DR Congo may be over, but the impact will be felt for generations. Years of turmoil have stretched things beyond their limits.

I have recently been spending time in Ngitse, a village close to Mount Tshiabirimu, where there is a high rate of widows and young unmarried women who have many children.

Many of the young women were raped or sexually abused by soldiers or militiamen, then they got pregnant and had children from unknown fathers. We have found out that, around Mount Tshiabirmu, over 500 young women were raped or were sexually abused as a result of the war. As a result, more than 1500 children were born. This information is from only three out of the eleven villages surrounding Mount Tshiabirimu, so the real figure is likely to be much higher. 96% of these young women are illiterate, while 82% of their children are not going to school. According to the local health centre the rate of those that tested HIV positive is five per cent (figures are from 2006).

In our research, 95% of the sexually abused young women are in charge of their mothers who are widows. I met one widow in Ngitse village called Irena who is caring for nine children, among them five orphans.

In this small area, little squares of farmland cover the steep slopes of the hills which provide living to thousands of local farmers. 30% of local people are landless and almost 80% of them are in land conflicts. Such situations may create conflicts between local people and the gorillas’ habitat forcing people to do things that will help them to survive for the present, even though they know they are creating problems for the future.

The impact of the war in DRC is still being felt here. The important thing is to remind the world of what happened, and to never let it occur again.

Another Gorilla died at Mont Tshiaberimu

Hi, This is Kyungu

The trackers and vets at Mount T are shocked to report the sad death of a silverback named Kanindo, who died after falling into a ravine at Miamba, a three hour walk from the nearest patrol post at Kalibina. Kanindo fell and lay paralysed at the bottom of the gully for about four days, without food or water. Our trackers noted on 5 July that Kanindo and his juvenile companion Mukokya had not been seen.


Then two days later they saw Mukokya alone. This was not usual, as young Mukokya has been accompanying Kanindo ever since his father Nzanzu died of old age in February. Before that time, Kanindo had been a solitary gorilla. Trackers found Kanindo in a gully on the afternoon of 8 July, but he was unable to move, and they were unable to move him. Vets were called, and they went directly to the place.


The gorilla was howling in pain, and they gave painkillers and antibiotics. Three days this continued, but they were not able to save Kanindo from death, which came on 11 July at around 18:00. Kanindo, the dead gorilla, had been used to human presence thanks to efforts of the Gorilla Organization in this area since 1996 to save what is still left of this part of the park. All of the staff at Mount T are under a cloud of shock and emotions about his death.

Health update from Tshiaberimu

Hello this is Jean Claude. During the last few days we have carried out a gorilla health monitoring visit at Tshiaberimu. Dr Jacques Iyanya and Dr Eddy Kambale from the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) led the mission and were joined by Dr Mavisi, a local vet who has been working with the project for some time, and Mr Odilon, our research coordinator.

Three habituated gorilla groups were observed – Lusenge, Kipura and Kanindo – from the patrol posts of Burusi, Kalibina and Kikyo, respectively.

During the health monitoring visit, three individuals were checked from Lusenge group (Nzanzu, Musangania and Mukokya), four individuals from the Kipura group and two from the Kanindo family. Faecal samples from each night nest were taken and close observations of the individuals health and behavior were recorded. It is very rainy here now at the moment but thankfully the rain started after the fecal samples were collected.

I am very happy to tell you that no apparent health problems were recorded for any of the observed individuals – great news!

In addition to the vet’s visit, ICCN trained rangers are collecting health data daily for some habituated gorilla group. They are using the MGVP IMPACT system (IMPACT = Internet-Support Management Program to Assist Conservation Technologie) This system gives the rangers guidelines to observe the gorillas health and helps them to identify any health problems.

Please see some pictures below taken during the gorilla health monitoring visit. I am sorry that some of them some of them are not very clear.
Thanks for all your support and I will write again soon.Mukokya at Mt TMCVP Mt Visit

MGVP visit to Mt T

Bird Survey at Tshiaberimu

The birdsurvey at Tshiaberimu:

I have conducted a bird survey in Mount Tshiaberimu in collaboration with other colleagues from the Kisangani University and the CRSN/Lwiro. Before we publish the final report, let me inform you that the Tshiaberimu ecosystem showed 145 birds species with 10 endemic of the Albertina valley and one rare bird.

Cryptospiza shelleyi2.JPG

Cryptospiza shelleyi