This Mother Gorilla Adopts Astonishing Behavior To Protect Her Baby

30/12/2017

In the Virunga mountains in Rwanda, scientists at theDian Fossey Gorilla Fund (DFGF), an international fund devoted to gorilla conservation, noticed some unusual behavior from a female primate. Pasika is the first female gorilla they have seen that refused to join another group after the death of their leader - all to protect her baby.

maman et bébé gorille

Source: Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

"Female mountain gorillas spend their entire lives living in groups"

As DFGF explained in a press release, "female mountain gorillas like Pasika spend their entire lives living in groups". Each group has a male known as the 'silverback', who is in charge of the others and protects them.

protection gorilles

Source: Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

When a silverback dies, another male must take his place. If there isn't one, the females will join another. Until now, no female had been known to try and live on her own.

Pasika, a gorilla with "extreme determination"

Pasika's silverback died when her baby was only two months old. Her fellow females quickly found a new male, but he killed one of their babies, a common assertion of dominance in gorillas.

gorille des montagnes

Source: Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

Determined not to risk her own baby's life, Pasika decided not to join the new group and headed out on her own, despite the danger that meant for her. For the DFGF, her actions prove that there's still a lot to learn about mountain gorillas:

What mother Pasika is doing highlights the great empathy, intelligence, and adaptability of mountain gorillas. It is clear that Pasika recognizes the risks transferring [families] poses to her infant, and is avoiding doing so with extreme determination.

An uncertain future for the baby

Since this situation is so unprecedented, the researchers are quite worried about what will happen to Pasika and her baby. Akthough the young gorilla's life would be at risk, the protection of the silverback and the rest of the group is crucial for survival in what is often a hostile environment.Even a "wonder woman", as the scientists like to call her, like Pasika might not be able to hold out alone for long.

bébé gorille

Source: Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

But for now, the two primates seem to be doing well and are being closely monitored by the DFGF.For Dr. Tara Stoinski, President, CEO and Head of the Scientific Department of the DFGF, Pasika's story reminds us that "there’s nothing quite as powerful in this world as a mother’s love for her child.”

H/t: The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

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