In East Africa, there are about eight and four documented cases of mountain gorilla twining and no where else except in Rwanda and Uganda respectively. In the Volcanoes National Park, the first and oldest set of gorilla twins were realized in 1986 but unfortunately they lived for 9 days whereas those that were born in 2008 also passed on the every day they were born due to infanticide.
However, Susa “A” gorilla family is one of the first and popularly known gorilla families in the Volcanoes National Park to receive a set of surviving gorilla twins in the history of mountain gorillas. The gorilla twins in this group were born in May 2004 when Nyabitondore gave birth to 2 infant gorillas that were after named Impano, a female gorilla that denotes “gift” and Byishimo, a male gorilla which denotes “joy.” Another set of gorilla twins was still realized in Susa “A” gorilla family in 2011 and they were given names-Impeta denoting a “medal” which also means the Susa gorilla family should be given a medal thanks due to their status and Umudende denoting an award of high value; unfortunately Umudende died in 2015.
Hirwa gorilla family on the other hand is another remarkable gorilla family that one can visit. It is popularly credited for its 2nd ever living gorilla twins known as Isango Gakuru and Isango Gato born to Kabatwa. Further more; one of the most current cases of gorilla twinning in the Volcanoes National Park is where Isaro, a sixteen year adult female gorilla of Isabukuru gorilla family also gave birth to 2 baby gorillas. This remarkable event was documented on 18th January 2016. Isabukuru gorilla group is one of the gorilla families that are monitored by the Dian Fossey Fund in Rwanda. The unfortunate bit of it is that only one of the twins was able to live for the twin gorillas in Isabukuru gorilla group.
At the same year, the good news was also received in August when Kalisimbi an adult female gorilla in Amahoro gorilla family was sighted with newly born twin babies but unfortunately they passed on the next day. The mother gorilla continued to carry them the whole night but there was nothing else other than dropping them the next day. They died of traumatic injuries. The greatest challenge for the mother gorillas in the wild is mainly to take care of the infants in the first weeks given the fact that they use their arms to support the babies till they become strong enough to grasp on tightly on their own. The female gorillas will always struggle to take care and feed the two babies in the wild although other family members some times can assist the mother gorilla take care and transport the twins.
On 1st September, Rwanda will also be holding its 13th annually gorilla naming ceremony at Kwita Izina. For the last 12 years, over 216 mountain gorillas have been named in this event. It is one of the most dramatic and adorable events that allows you to sight the baby mountain gorilla while in their natural habitat.
It is a wish of every one to see these rare Apes survive and increase in the wild, but one should note that a female gorilla becomes sexually active at the age of six where she can under go adolescent infertility for about two years. At this period, mating starts but still there won’t be any pregnancy case. The average age of the first gorilla birth is about ten years which is approximately eight to thirteen years. The gestation period is about eight and half months while the typical inter birth interval is between four to five years.
In conclusion, for a female gorilla to give birth in the wild is the most extraordinary and rarest thing in a gorilla life. This tremendous event is one of the greatest rewards for the wildlife conservationists as well as trackers. The more gorillas are born; chances are there will be more habituated groups which are of greater advantage for visitors who intend to track mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Let us protect and conserve these golden creatures for remarkable and unforgettable experiences in our daily travel!