Wednesday, June 29, 2005

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Our Adopted Gorilla

Let me introduce you to Urwibutso, the three year old Mountain Gorilla that readers of Another Chance To See have jointly adopted as our official mascot!

Thank you again to all our sponsors, who kindly donated $5 each to raise the necessary $50 to adopt Urwibutso from the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.
Urwibutso is the youngest of six brothers and sisters, and his mother is called Tuck. Tuck is a 32 year old female who has been a member of Beetsme's group since 1988. The group is one of three studied and protected by the DFGFI. Since Beetsme's death in 2001, the group has been led by the silverback Titus. Urwibutso lives with his mother and big brother Vuba, but enjoys following Titus around. Titus is most likely his father, and genetic testing may soon confirm this.

Urwibutso is quite independent, but a very sociable infant, and enjoys wrestling with other gorillas, many of them 250 pounds heavier than him. His best friend is Pato, who is now four and a half. After a hard day's play, Urwibutso still enjoys cuddling with his mother Tuck. Tuck is never ruffled by her son's boisterous nature.

Urwibutso is also especially curious about his human observers, and they have to keep bags, binoculars and notebooks away from him. His friendly nature makes him a favourite of the researchers.

"Urwibutso" means "memories" in Kinyarwanda, and the name was chosen by a military general in honour of two gorillas who died during Rwandan conflict near where the gorilla was born.
As the recent gorilla naming ceremony has shown, corporate adoption of gorillas is proving to be a great way to raise funds for the protection of the gorillas.
Rwanda's national parks authority raised $850 000 for gorilla conservation by putting 29 animals up for "corporate adoption".

"The prices (for adoption) range from $5 000 to $50 000," said the executive director of the Rwanda national parks and tourism office, Rica Rwigamba.

The 29 animals were named in the northern town of Ruhengeri in an official ceremony of the sort that is traditionally carried out for human babies in Rwanda. Among the names they were given were Happiness and Gift.