These Three Silverback Gorilla Brothers Protect a Group of 22 Female Gorillas

Three Silverback Gorilla Brothers Live Together With Strong Bond

The dominant silverback Musilikale with his two brothers Icumbi and Turakomeje, who help him keep his group of 22 gorillas safe. (Photo: Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund)

Silverback mountain gorillas are powerful creatures. Typically, one adult male leads a band of females and juveniles. Males without a flock of females travel alone or form small groups together. It is relatively uncommon for these family bands to include multiple adult males; however, one group in Rwanda is a heartwarming example of brotherly love. The family band is led by the dominant male Musilikale, but his two loyal adult brothers Icumbi and Turakomeje stay by his side to help keep the family safe. Studied and protected by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, this band of brothers has captured hearts with their playful antics.

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund was established in 1967 by Dian Fossey. The organization is dedicated to conservation through research, training local conservationists, and forming ties with local communities. They protect mountain gorillas in Rawanda and Grauer’s gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Both species are incredibly endangered, so the organization has trackers and researchers who follow the gorilla groups every day. These protective efforts are labor-intensive but effective. The mountain gorillas are used to human presence, allowing researchers to better observe their social interactions. The Grauer’s gorillas must be followed at a distance however.

The trackers and observers who follow the mountain gorilla families have captured many sweet images of the social creatures. In Musilikale's family, the three brothers lead 22 female gorillas. Icumbi and Turakomeje help their brother protect the group as it travels in search of food and nesting grounds. These two are particularly bonded, the researchers report. They nap and play together even though they are all grown up. Meanwhile, their brother Musilikale leads his group of bonded females which he will defend with his life if necessary. Male gorillas can make sweet fathers—playing with juveniles and even letting them sleep in their nests if something happens to the mother.

Unfortunately, gorillas are in incredible danger. The mountain gorilla population is endangered and thought to be just over 1,000 individuals. They are threatened by poachers, habitat loss, and traps set for other animals into which they stumble. Grauer’s gorillas–also known as eastern lowland gorillas—are considered critically endangered with an unknown, small population. Loss of habitat and extreme vulnerability to poaching are just some of the threats the species faces. Supporting the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is one way to help fight for these incredible creatures. At present, they are building a new Ellen DeGeneres campus in Rwanda to expand their work. Animal lovers can also adopt a gorilla by choosing their favorite from a range of available babies and adults. Adopters will receive special images of their sweet new friend and have the satisfaction of helping protect this vulnerable species.

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund protects vulnerable mountain and eastern lowland guerrillas.

This family band is rather rare for including three silverback brother's who are quite bonded.

Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and reading while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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