We’d like to share the latest update straight from Rwanda’s Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge near Volcanoes National Park. Book a gorilla tracking adventure in Rwanda and stay at the Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge.
The weather pattern in the Virunga Range was very mild for most of the month, with morning temperatures around 48F-50F at 6 a.m. and day temperatures reaching up to 75F in the early afternoon. Many mornings were beautifully clear, offering wonderful views from the lodge towards the Eastern Virunga volcanoes of Visoke, Mikeno and Karisimbi. Usually, clouds would build up rapidly in the afternoons, releasing their first drops well after guests were back from gorilla trekking. The first of the rains arrived on the 2nd of September with a short sharp afternoon shower and the rains then continued until the middle of the month, when the area received on average just under 1 inch of rain per day. From the middle of the month onwards the rain tapered off.
In Volcanoes National Park, the return of the rain brought new growth to the bamboo forests triggering the bamboo to sprout new shoots and leaves. All this growth meant that many of the gorilla families became less mobile, than during the previous three months of the dry season, when they had to wander further afield in search of food. The families tend to stay lower on the mountain closer to the bamboo shoots, making trekking distances shorter in general.
The Susa Group, one of the largest of the gorilla groups in the park, remained split this month and it is though that this will probably lead to the creation of a new, totally independent gorilla family group in Mt Karisimbi area. The dominant males of the two groups (still considered as sub-groups within the Susa Group), seem to be avoiding each other more and more.
The most significant and very sad event in the park’s gorilla population was the death of Titus, leader of the group of the same name. This legendary silverback, aged 35 (he was born on 24 August 1974), was found dead in his nest on the morning of 14 September by trackers of Karisoke Research Station. Titus had been followed and studied since his birth. The newborn baby was first discovered by Kelly Stewart, an American student working with Dian Fossey at Karisoke at the time. It seems that the death of the old dominant silverback was hastened by the return of his son, ‘Rano’, another adult silverback male, who returned to the group after having lived as a lone silverback for a long period. Persistent challenging from Rano apparently exhausted the old leader, who fought for his status position until his end. Titus, may be the most famous gorilla in the Volcanoes National Park, was buried in the gorilla cemetery on the site of the former Karisoke Reaearch Camp during a special ceremony on 16 September;
Back in the lodge Bernard, the manager, has been hard at work creating beautiful new organic vegetable and flower gardens. Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge’s property extends over 17 acres and the lodge is still in the process of landscaping the gardens, to give a true “forest feeling” by planting more native trees, shrubs and plant species. In one corner of the property, the lodge has created an organic vegetable garden with carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, potatoes and other vegetables. The produce appears almost daily on the guests’ plates. Bernard plans to extend the vegetable garden, so as to be as self-sufficient as possible in the future. In another corner of the property Bernard has planted an organic flower garden to ensure a regular supply of fresh flowers to be used at the lodge. Flowers are cut daily by the staff and made into attractive arrangements that decorate the cottages and the tables in the dining area. Favorites are the elegant The lodge has also invited the neighboring community to put bee hives along the edges of the garden to pollinate the vegetable and flower gardens and in turn provide delicious organic honey.
Photos courtesy Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Governors Camps.