Impenetrable National Park contains almost half of the world’s remaining
Mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) and research has
shown that this population is unique in many aspects of their ecology
Some members of the Kyagurilo group
(Max Plank Insitute for Evolutionary Anthropology) has been
conducting research on the Kyagurilo Mountain gorilla group with ITFC since 1998.
The gorilla research is overseen by Dr.
Martha Robbins. This represents the second longest study of
habituated gorillas in Africa. The research takes a
multi-disciplinary approach to studying the social system of Bwindi Mountain gorillas by combining field observations of ecological
conditions, gorilla behavior, habitat utilization, and demographic
events with hormonal measurements and genetic analysis.
and UWA gorilla research team
goals of this project are:
Further our understanding on the development and maintenance of social
behavior and reproductive strategies of male and female mountain
gorillas, through the use of behavioral observations, hormone analysis,
and genetic analysis.
Understand the demography and life histories (birth rates, mortality,
and potential growth rate) of the population through analysis of the
long term demographic data and genetic data obtained through fecal
samples on Kyagurilo, other habituated groups, and from the unhabituated
gorillas located throughout Bwindi.
Examine the long term patterns of ranging and habitat utilization of
Bwindi gorillas in conjunction with measures of food availability to
better understand gorilla movement patterns, habitat requirements, and
the capacity for the population to increase.
Examine the changes in gorilla behavior during the habituation process
to better understand the impact of human presence on gorilla behavior
and ecology. This is done in close conjunction with UWA.
MPI also has been conducting a
conservation education program with two
local primary schools (Ruhija Primary School and Bitanwa Primary School)
since 2007. We provide lessons on a monthly basis for more than 200
students in primary 5, 6, and 7. This program is currently managed by
Ms. Emily Turinawe.
‘backbone’ of the MPI research focusing on gorillas in Bwindi is with
the one group habituated for research, the Kyagurilo Group. We have
seen many changes in the group since 1998. For example: a change in
dominant silverback in 2004, the emigration of 4 young silverbacks
(between 2009-2010) who were first observed as infants or juveniles, the
deaths of two elderly females in 2009-2010, the immigration of 4 females
into the group between 2000-2010, and several births. Gorillas are
long-lived so it takes years to see how their social dynamics and group
structure can change over time. With the Kyagurilo group, we make
detailed behavioral observations on the aggressive and affiliative
interactions among group members, diet, and ranging patterns. This
work is only possible through observations made for several hours each
conduct some research on other gorilla groups in Bwindi as well. For example, we have
conducted research on diet and home range utilization using the groups
habituated for tourism. This research has been done using methods that
do not involved directly observing the gorillas. We also have made an
assessment of the demography of the Bwindi gorilla population using data
on all births, deaths, and dispersal events of the individually known
gorillas in all the habituated groups (tourism and research).
some research has been done on a population level. We have done
vegetation sampling through approximately one-third of the lower portion
of the park used by the gorillas. We also have conducted genetic
analysis of the entire population using fecal samples collected during
the 2006 census. This same work currently is being done from the 2011
census, which will provide us with a population-wide assessment of
dispersal events over the past 5 years. The fecal samples are also
being used for pathogen analysis on a park-wide basis and for
comparisons with analysis of the Virunga gorilla population.