Popular mountain gorilla dies in Rwanda

Vuba, a famous mountain gorilla in Rwanda, which was of the “silverback” family, has died, according to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.

It was the son of Titus, who became the world’s most famous “mountain Gorilla King” after starring in Dian Fossey’s “Gorillas in the Mist” film in late 1988.

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, an NGO coordinating conservation activities in volcanoes national park in the Northern Rwanda, said that trackers earlier this week found the 24-year-old silverback leader Vuba (Quick) in critical condition when they arrived for their daily monitoring.

Vuba was still and barely breathing, with other gorillas surrounding him initially before they moved away for feeding.

“Sadly, Vuba died the next night. A necropsy showed trauma that suggested he had been injured or attacked in a fight, probably with another silverback,” according to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.

The death of Vuba comes a few years after his mother, Titus, was found dead in late September 2009 after falling ill.

It is said that Vuba led a group named after former leader Kuryama.

Reacting to the death, the Fossey Fund’s director of the Karisoke Research Centre, Felix Ndagijimana, said that Vuba was a great leader and played a crucial role in maintaining the integrity and cohesiveness of the group.

“We are extremely saddened by Vuba’s death,” he said.

A census conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) showed that there are about 700 mountain gorillas alive and are concentrated in the mountain ranges across Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo.

It is said that gorillas have been vulnerable to traps set for other animals, and females have been killed so that their babies could be sold as pets.

Both Rwanda and Uganda have turned gorilla tracking into a major eco-tourism industry and a big foreign currency earner, while war had stalled similar development in eastern DR Congo.

Among the 480 gorillas from 20 different families living on the slopes of the Virungas on the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, at least 302 live in Rwandan territory where they are monitored on a daily basis.