Happy 2nd birthday to Inguka and Inganda, CAR’s adorable gorilla twins | WWF
Happy 2nd birthday to Inguka and Inganda, CAR’s adorable gorilla twins

Posted on 22 January 2018

The gorilla twins of Dzanga Sangha are turning 2 years old on January 25 and they are doing great! Terence Fuh Neba, the primate conservationist working with them is impressed by the progress they’ve made so far. “I have observed many infant gorillas grow and develop from birth into sub-adults but observing the twins is a heartening and an extraordinary experience for me,” Terence says.
The gorilla twins of Dzanga Sangha are turning 2 years old on January 25 and they are doing great! Terence Fuh Neba, the primate conservationist working with them is impressed by the progress they’ve made so far. “I have observed many infant gorillas grow and develop from birth into sub-adults but observing the twins is a heartening and an extraordinary experience for me,” Terence says.

Inganda seems to be Malui’s preferred twin (or maybe just the weaker one) and he spends most of the time riding on her back. Inguka, on the other hand, has gained his position within the group, staying close to the silverback and interacting with the other group members.” Most of the time Inguka  moves on the ground. He can climb to over 30 metres without any help and is almost never seen riding on Malui’s back. The older siblings have played a great role in raising Inguka, making the job easier for Malui.

The Primate Habituation Programme (PHP) was launched in 1997 with the main aim of habituating western lowland gorillas for tourism and research. To date, the PHP has successfully habituated three western lowland gorilla groups while two additional groups are presently undergoing habituation. The PHP employs indigenous Ba’Aka people as trackers and Bantu people as guides, since they are closest and most familiar with the terrain.

Habituating great apes for tourism and research is important for conservation as it has the potential to generate significant funding for conservation activities as well as generate revenue for local economies, strengthening the link between conservation projects and communities. To date, the PHP has received over 4000 tourists, numerous film crews and many international journalists and researchers.  Research with the gorillas at Dzanga Sangha has also led to many academic publications. It is considered one of the most successful Western Lowland Gorilla tourism and research programme in Central Africa.

People have exaggerated ideas of what gorillas can do. Some believe that male gorillas are monstrous giants that run around the forest killing anything that comes their way. Others say gorillas can lift cars. Terence believes that these stories scare people so much that they do not believe gorillas could be habituated. While they may be right about some things- silverback gorillas can measure up to 1.7m and weigh about 200 kg, so they are giant- they do not run around killing everything in the forest. They eat fruits, leaves, stems and termites. They don’t shatter tree trunks or lift cars, except in movies. 

“Every day with the gorillas is special. Observing Malui climbing a tree with both babies on one arm just five days after their birth is unforgettable. The passion and strength Malui invests in her beautiful offspring is heartwarming,” Terence shared.

As the twins celebrate their 2nd birthday, it is a great opportunity to reflect on the role of the community in protecting mountain gorillas.  Western gorilla populations are declining as a result of poaching, habitat loss and diseases but the good news is that it is still possible to reverse this, as seen with mountain gorillas. Communities in Africa should manage their forests sustainably, avoid excessive logging and stop poaching of gorillas.  

Local people need to take ownership of their resources and understand that if these resources are depleted, it is their future that becomes uncertain.


Terence Fuh is a primate conservationist working for WWF CAR since 2011. Presently, he manages WWF's Primate habituation programme in the Dzanga Sangha Protected Areas.
 
Inganda and Inguka with their mother Malui
© Miguel Bellosta
Terence Fuh Neba, Primatologist at WWF Central African Republic
© WWF CAR
Inganda with Malui
© Miguel Bellosta