RUKINA, the former dominant silverback in the Ruhiija sector based Kyaguriro family passed on, on Easter Monday April 6th,2015.
It is estimated that that Rukina was born around 1984. He was well identified as a group member of the Kyagurilo Group in the late 1990’s when he was a young silverback.
It was at this time that he was named ‘Rukina’, meaning ‘playful’ in Rujiga, due to his playful nature as a young adult. He became the dominant silverback of the group in August of 2004, following a 3 year struggle for dominance over the previous dominant silverback (Zeus). Through genetic analysis of fecal samples, we confirmed that he sired his first offspring when he was still a subordinate male in 2002.
Overall, he likely sired 10 offspring, most of whom are currently still infants. During his 11 year tenure as the dominant silverback he attracted four females into his group from neighboring groups, attesting to his ability to be a good leader. He was a very tolerant silverback, spending a lot of time with the adult females as well as his many infants. At the time of his death, the group was at its largest size, containing 21 gorillas, including 8 adult females.
He contributed to the understanding of the ecology and social behavior of Bwindi mountain gorillas due to the focus of research on his group by the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology since 1998. He helped promote the plight of the critically endangered mountain gorillas around the world by being filmed for several documentary films including one by the BBC.
This group is now being led by Rukara the next Silverback. There was a great instability in the group from yesterday till today. However, in the afternoon the trackers noted some bit of calmness though this may take a bit of time before the group fully recovers from this unexpected shock. May his soul rest in peace.