First twins born to habituated gorillas in Dzanga Sangha are one year old | WWF

First twins born to habituated gorillas in Dzanga Sangha are one year old



Posted on 12 September 2017
Inguka and Inganda
© Tobias Graessle / WWF
The Dzanga-Sangha Protected Areas (DSPA) created by the Central African government is where WWF has been running its 18 year-old Primate Habituation Programme to habituate gorillas for tourism and research. Apart from being the major source of employment to the local people the programme plays a vital role in DSPA’s management strategy by generating significant revenue and strengthening the vital link with the community. Since 2000, the programme has successfully habituated and studied several gorilla families in the Dzanga-Sangha.  

Makumba, the patriarch resident silverback of the Makumba group, lives in Bai Hokou. Last year, his female Malui, gave birth to twins. A rare phenomenon.  David Greer is the WWF African Great Apes Programme Leader. He has worked in Dzanga Sangha for over 8 years. "These are the first twins ever recorded in Dzanga Sangha and their birth is an incredible moment for everyone who has worked so hard to habituate and conserve these gorillas over the past 16 years. These tiny twins are a sign of success in Dzanga Sangha but gorillas continue to face serious threats across Central Africa and their futures are far from secure, which is why WWF is working with governments and partners throughout the region to protect them and their forest habitat."

Although multiple sets of twins have been recorded for eastern gorillas, it appears to be a rare occurrence for western gorillas. These are the first twins recorded during the long-running habituation and research programme in Dzanga Sangha. The Dzanga Sangha protected area is among the many regions in Africa that are home to indigenous communities such as the Baka who have called this area home for centuries. They live off the land, hunting and gathering. The community provides a wealth of knowledge of the nature habitat that has helped conservationists study the gorillas.

Naming the newborns is a Baka tradition in which there are celebrations among the community whilst respecting the gorillas privacy.  The gorilla twins were given the names INGUKA and INGANDA. They were named by the Baka of Bai Hokou, who are always responsible for naming the gorillas.  Inganda is the smaller of the two twins. INGANDA is a forest shrub. Gorillas eat these leaves. The twins' mother, Malui, used the leaves as a cushion to give birth to them. INGUKA is also a forest shrub, whose leaves gorillas eat - especially during the last weeks of the dry season, when the gorillas depend more on leaves than on fruit. Malui fed on these leaves a lot when she was heavily pregnant.

Now one year old, both twins are active and agile, and appear healthy. Tembo, their elder brother (9 years old)  is  interacting a lot with the twins. On several occasions, he was seen to take one of the twins from Malui when she was resting and try to play with it. Each time, Malui gathers the twins back from him before moving.  The habituation programme is part of a long term project funded by WWF Germany, WWF Netherlands and the Central African Government. Gorilla habituation is a common study through which conservationists gather required information vital for ensuring the life of the species. It also provides opportunity of the growth of a tourism industry for the country whilst protecting the animals from its poachers.  Gorillas are strong yet delicate animals which are prone to poaching, disease, and increasing habitat loss due to human development.
Inguka and Inganda
© Tobias Graessle / WWF Enlarge