Grieving Behavior in Gorillas; Study Shows – Rwanda Safari News
Not any different from human beings, Gorillas too grieve when one of the family members dies. Many Gorilla safari Rwanda, Uganda gorilla trekking or Congo gorilla safaris love to trek the best gorilla families but do you know of their behaviors here is the grieving behavior in gorillas after loss of a member.
Animals are known to exhibit unique behaviors around same-species corpses (dead bodies), these are seen ranging from removal of the bodies and burial among social insects, to quiet attendance and caregiving among elephants and primates.
This wasn’t seen among the Gorillas however, recently a study report was published by researchers in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo on their analysis of the behavioral responses to the deaths of three gorillas -both known and unknown -and some interesting facts were revealed.
Scientists from the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, the University of California Davis, Uppsala University, and the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature, observed and filmed the behavior of mountain gorillas around the corpses of a 35-year-old dominant adult male (the historic silverback Titus) and a 38-year-old dominant adult female (named Tuck) from the same social group living in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. Both individuals had died a few hours earlier of illnesses possibly linked to their advanced age.
The Researchers also studied the behavior of a group of Grauer’s gorillas (lowland gorillas) who found the body of a recently deceased adult male in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo.
They predicted that more individuals would engage with the corpses of familiar members of their own group compared to the extra-group mature male and that individuals who shared close social relationships with the deceased would be the ones to spend the most time close to body.
To the researchers’ surprise, the behavioral responses toward the corpses in all three cases were remarkably similar.
In all three cases, animals typically sat close to the body and stared at it but they also sniffed, poked, groomed and licked it.
In the two mountain gorilla cases, individuals that shared close social relationships with the deceased were the ones who spent the most time in contact with the corpse.
For example, a juvenile male who had established a close relationship with Titus, the dominant mountain gorilla silverback male, after his mother left the group, remained close and often in contact with the body for two days, and slept in the same nest (sleeping area built each day) with it.
The juvenile son of Tuck, the deceased adult female, groomed the corpse and even tried suckling from it despite having already been weaned, a behavior that could indicate his distress near his mother’s body.
This is so similar to human’s when a parent is lost, there is a tendency to miss the tender moments with their mother.
Thanks for the great study but this only doesn’t expose how gorillas grieve but much more. The fact that when a gorilla dies the close relatives keep close, sniff, poke, groom and lick the corpse then this exposes the gorillas to diseases since they are highly susceptible to diseases; even just a cold.
For this susceptibility, Rwanda gorilla trekking safari, gorilla trekking safari in Uganda and Congo gorilla trekking safari tourists have been given rules and regulations to follow during a trek. Close contact with infected corpses can lead to loss of several gorillas and therefore conservations should be cautious in case there is any death.
Learning about gorillas always comes with surprises, this and much more can be learnt on a gorilla trekking safari.
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