Cool Science
From Infant to Silverback

December 4, 2015

32870ioc7c 059
Photo Credit: ©Jana Robeyst/Mbeli Bai Study

This is Darzee, a silverback gorilla recently photographed at a forest clearing in Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo. Many gorillas, both groups and solitary males, frequent the clearing, called Mbeli bai, to eat the mineral- and protein-rich vegetation there.

As part of WCS's long-running Mbeli Bai Study, researchers have been observing Darzee here since he was an infant. That was in 1997, when he was first spotted with his mother, Nagaira. Below is a shot of him in 2007.

In 2011, Darzee did as male western lowland gorillas are known to do. He broke off from his group. After four years solo, it seems he has started to put together a group of his own. On this recent visit to the bai, he was spotted with females—one the researchers had named Denise and one they had named Acapella, plus possibly one named Matkah (though the third female stayed on the edge of the forest, making it tough for scientists to identify her for sure).

295ie05a8m 6fx8bf2ubt darzee 2007 1
Photo Credit: ©Mbeli Bai Study

We need your help

Your tax-deductible gift supports cutting-edge exhibits, first-class animal care, and in-depth research to help threatened wildlife survive and thrive.