Different conservation groups across the country are overwhelmed with the death of Kanyonyi leader of the oldest gorilla group (Mubare mountain gorilla family) in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park after a brutal fight with a lone wild silverback, only identified as Malaya.
Born on November 1, 1996 to Ruhondeza and Kashongo, Kanyonyi passed on at the age of 21 years. During the same fight, one of his offspring was also brutally torn into pieces, dying instantly.
Prior to the brutal fight, the leader of Mubare group had fallen off a tree while harvesting fruits and injured one of his forelegs, making him weak.
Dr. Gladys Kalema Zikusoka, the Chief Executive Officer of Conservation Though Public Health, the organization that treated the wounded silverback says the death is unfortunate. She says “Kanyonyi first fell off a tree, but while he was recovering after treatment, a lone silverback fought with him because he wanted to take over his group. Kanyonyi in his weakened state was not able to put up a good fight and sustained many injuries which though they were healing left him weaker than usual. She says fighting amongst free-ranging gorillas is considered part of their normal behavior patterns and enables natural group succession. She says the death of the silverback came as a result of injuries he sustained during the fight with Malaya. “Conservation through Public Health participated in the post mortem which confirmed the major cause of his death to be an infection in the hip joint after the fall. She adds that she has known Kanyonyi since he was born 21 years ago.
Rekindling a fond memory of the fallen Kanyonyi, Dr Kalema says he was a playful young silverback who liked interacting with human visitors. Over the past five years, Kanyonyi has kept the Mubare gorilla group together and enabled it to grow through attracting many females.
John Simplicious Gesa, the Public Relations Manager at the Uganda Wildlife Authority also says that the death of Kanyonyi is a big blow to the Mubare family and death has robbed the country of a formidable gorilla group that has been the backbone of tourism and gorilla tracking in the country. He said following the death of the former leader (Ruhondeza father of Kanyonyi), the group was on the verge of disintegration when Kanyonyi took over, as a result of his courageous, steadfast and strong leadership, he managed to put this group back to the rank and brought in more members by attracting more females.