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The Great Apes

Finland Shadow Online
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When seeing things like this.... it just feels bad, that these fascinating creatures are kept in zoos.




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India Sanju Offline
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When Need turns to Greed, our Extinction happens.
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Norway Pantherinae Offline
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Some teeth!
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United Kingdom Sully Offline
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The curious case of the koolakamba:

The koolakamba is said to be a hybrid between a gorilla and a chimpanzee. Although a gorilla-chimp hybrid has not been verified ever in the wild or otherwise, the history of the koolakamba is storied.

Here is a brief overview of the history of the koolakamba
http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/aboutp/myths/koola.html

Here is a more detailed look (after a bizarre theory that gorillas are a hybrid between chimps and hogs)
http://www.macroevolution.net/hybrid-hyp...ion-5.html



Over the years, a number of koolookambas have been obtained from Gabon and elsewhere in equatorial West Africa. Some have even been displayed alive in zoos. Perhaps the most famous captive koolookamba was 'Mafuka', a large aggressive female brought from Gabon's Loango Coast and exhibited at Dresden Zoo in the 1870s. In 1877, primatologist A. B. Meyer (1877) asserted that Mafuka was a hybrid of chimpanzee and gorilla. This paper "initiated a storm of controversy that" ape expert W. C. O. Hill (1969, pp. 23-24) described as "not yet been finally settled."

Six years after Meyer’s assertion, another expert on the anthropoid apes, Robert Hartmann (1886, pp. 215-219), discussed the Mafuka dispute: "When I first saw this savage creature, early in September, 1875, it was full of vigour, and I was almost convinced that I saw a female gorilla, not quite an adult, an opinion shared by such zoologists as K. Th. von Siebold and others, while it is vehemently opposed by Bolau [1876] and A. B. Meyer [1877]." Hartmann goes on (p. 220) to express his own doubts about Mafuka’s classification. In the end, he wrote: "For me and many other naturalists Mafuka remains up to this time an enigma, which is slurred over by others with a few phrases." At one point (pp. 218-219), he admits having leaned toward the idea that she was a hybrid.




Front and side profile of Mafuka:

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Front and side profile of a chimp:



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Gorilla front and side profile:



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"When the tiger stalks the jungle like the lowering clouds of a thunderstorm, the leopard moves as silently as mist drifting on a dawn wind." -Indian proverb
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United Kingdom Sully Offline
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On hybridization between chimps and bonobos. Things like this are a reason I love primatology, it's a fairly fledgling area of study with so much yet to uncover.

http://www.macroevolution.net/bonobo-chi...brids.html
"When the tiger stalks the jungle like the lowering clouds of a thunderstorm, the leopard moves as silently as mist drifting on a dawn wind." -Indian proverb
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Switzerland Spalea Offline
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From the link: http://www.sports.fr/boxe/articles/quand...o-2398007/

When Mike Tyson wanted to fight the gorilla of a zoo.

Mike Tyson a de sacrées anecdotes sur son incomparable carrière. Sur les rings et aussi en dehors...  
Mike Tyson a souvent été réduit à son côté animal. On a dit l'ancien plus jeune champion du monde des poids-lourds attaché... aux pigeons. Mais c'est bien une histoire de gorille que "Iron Mike" a relaté récemment dans les colonnes de The Sun. Des faits qui remontent à l'année 1986 ; le boxeur américain est âgé de 20 ans et déjà la nouvelle sensation du noble art. Une star à laquelle on cède tous ses caprices. Comme cette visite privée d'un zoo de New York, où Tyson s'attarde donc devant l'enclos des gorilles, où un l'un des animaux, par son comportement dominant, semble effrayer ses congénères. 
Pas du goût de ce visiteur vraiment pas comme les autres, qui se met alors en tête de jouer les redresseurs de torts et se propose pour "apprendre une leçon" à ce gorille à dos argenté. Pour que le gardien qui l'accompagne lui ouvre la porte de la cage, il va même jusqu'à proposer la somme de 10 000 dollars...
Invaincu à l'époque sur les rings, Tyson essuiera un refus, mais il ne doutait pas à l'époque de pouvoir mettre à l'amende la bête approchant les 195 kilos !



I try to closely translate this text, for the fun:

Mike Tyson was told through hell of stories, into the ring and out of the ring.
He has often been reduced to his animalian side. The ancient youngest heavy weight world champion was fond of pigeons. But "Iron Mike" related recently a story of gorilla in the columns of the Sun. Some facts from 1986; the american boxer, 20 years old is already the sensation of his sport. A star in front of who no one caprice is refused. He was visiting a zoo in New York and staying in front of the gorillas enclosure where one of the beast seemed to frighten the other animals through its dominant behaviour. This visitor, clearly quite different to the other ones didn't like it and wanted to be the righter/redresser of wrongs, i.e. to give a lesson to the silverback gorilla. So that the guards who was going with him opens the cage door, he was ready to offer him 10.000 dollars...
Tyson, at that time unbeaten into the rings got a refusal, even if he didn't doubt being able to penalize an almost 195 kilos beast !

IMO, crazy Mike Tyson could be very grateful to this guard.
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United Kingdom Sully Offline
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There is an abundance of credible evidence to show that animals visibly express grief. In this heartbreaking portrait by #WPY54 winner Ricardo Núñez Montero, a young mountain gorilla is shown with her dead baby, which she couldn't let go of and had been carrying for weeks.

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"When the tiger stalks the jungle like the lowering clouds of a thunderstorm, the leopard moves as silently as mist drifting on a dawn wind." -Indian proverb
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United Kingdom Sully Offline
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Anti poachers' selfie with gorillas he's protecting

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"When the tiger stalks the jungle like the lowering clouds of a thunderstorm, the leopard moves as silently as mist drifting on a dawn wind." -Indian proverb
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India sanjay Offline
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Seeing them standing like a human is incredible
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India Sanju Offline
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Deforestation will drive orangutans extinct ‘in a decade’

https://www.sustainability-times.com/env...-a-decade/
When Need turns to Greed, our Extinction happens.
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India Sanju Offline
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When Need turns to Greed, our Extinction happens.
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United Kingdom Sully Offline
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A brief overview on how the great apes react to foreign stimuli in the form of camera traps



"When the tiger stalks the jungle like the lowering clouds of a thunderstorm, the leopard moves as silently as mist drifting on a dawn wind." -Indian proverb
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Argentina Tshokwane Offline
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Credits to Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

Episode One: Gorilla group Pablo reaches 25th year and continues its historic saga:

This is the first in a series of articles and posts that will chronicle the lives of the gorillas in a legendary mountain gorilla group named after former silverback Pablo. This group has existed since 1993 and is named after a silverback – Pablo — that Dian Fossey studied starting in 1974.


Pablo was the group’s leader for only one year, however, before yielding dominance to another historic silverback — Cantsbee. But the group never lost cohesion and remains together to this day, with various offspring, newcomers and other leaders along the way.
Since it is quite large and once reached the largest size ever recorded — 65 members — Pablo group also has an interesting and well-documented history, and remains fascinating to follow every day, as the Fossey Fund trackers and researchers have continued to do for nearly 25 years so far!

Who is Pablo?

Pablo in August of 1992

*This image is copyright of its original author

Pablo was born in 1974 and named by Dian Fossey. He lived in what was then called “Group 5” by Fossey, one of the groups she monitored during her pioneering studies. She had a special affection for the young Pablo and wrote in her book, Gorillas in the Mist: “Pablo’s sense of frolic was infectious and his outgoing personality freely expanded within his first year, attracting many other immatures to him.”


In 1993, Group 5 split into two new groups, one of which was led by Pablo, and the other by historic silverback Shinda. Pablo ceded leadership of the group to silverback Cantsbee in 1994, but remained well respected within the group. As the group continued to increase in size, Pablo led a small subgroup for short periods of time, but these did not last long.
In July of 2008, the 34-year-old Pablo was missing from his group and despite searching by our best trackers, he could not be found. There had probably been an interaction with another group at some point after our trackers had left for the day, which we deduced by such evidence as flattened vegetation in the area and serious injuries to the other group’s silverback — Inshuti — who had been nearby.

Who else has led Pablo’s group?

For 20 years, the group was led by the historic silverback Cantsbee, who was also first seen and named by Dian Fossey, in 1978. She came up with this name because she had believed that his mother was a male, until she saw her with this newborn. Fossey exclaimed, “It can’t be,” which turned into the name Cantsbee. He was then monitored by the Fossey Fund for his entire life, until he died in 2017 at the elderly age of 38.

*This image is copyright of its original author

Cantsbee was an exceedingly successful group leader, holding the longest reign and siring more offspring than any other gorilla we have monitored. He was known for his strong but gentle leadership and his human observers considered 
him to be charismatic and very authoritative.


“He rarely initiated conflicts,” says research assistant Didier Abavandimwe. “On the contrary, he used to end conflicts and was very peaceful. I was impressed by his long tenure as a dominant silverback in such a large group. He was an indisputable leader.”
Gorilla protection and monitoring officer Jean Pierre “Samedi” Mucyo recalls one episode when Cantsbee broke up a fight between two other silverbacks.

“I will never forget the day — Aug. 14, 2013,” he says. “When the two younger silverbacks were fighting, Cantsbee made it clear that the fight had to stop, without making any sound or antagonistic behavior. The youngest silverback then laid down with his face on the ground, as if asking for forgiveness. I’ve never seen such a reaction to other gorillas — the authority of Cantsbee was amazing.”

Cantsbee earned his name once again before he died, since he went missing from his group in late 2016 and despite massive searches could not be found, thus leading our staff to conclude he must have died. Then, a few months later, he showed up suddenly in his group and our staff could hardly believe their eyes! But his age and afflictions must have caught up with him, because he went missing again a few months later and his partially decomposed body was eventually found and definitively identified.

Who leads Pablo’s group now?

Pablo group is currently led by the 23-year-old silverback Gicurasi, who is a son of Cantsbee. Cantsbee actually helped raise Gicurasi, when the mother left the group while he was still quite young. Our staff observed Gicurasi constantly grooming and playing with the little Gicurasi back then.

When Cantsbee disappeared in 2016-2017, Pablo group split into two, with a younger silverback — 18-year-old Kureba — taking a few members and forming his own group. Gicurasi, who had taken over from Cantsbee, led the larger portion of the group and continues to lead successfully today

Gicurasi

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What’s going on in Pablo’s group now?


Currently the group has 25 members, though there are a few members who have joined or left recently, so this number can go up or down somewhat, as is normal with most gorilla groups. There are six youngsters of about 5 years old or less in the group, so it’s a good group for infant development! In addition to adult and sub-adult females, there are also two other full-grown silverbacks and several blackbacks (younger adult males) in the group.

This diversity makes the group both interesting and active in terms of behaviors, socializing, playing, births and the wide range of gorilla activities that we observe.

Pablo’s group

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‘Like night-watchmen they patrol the dark nights; marching with intent and chasing all those unwanted into the shadows…those that do not run are removed’
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Argentina Tshokwane Offline
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Credits to Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

Episode Two: Male hierarchy and a gorilla group’s success:

Mountain gorillas live in groups that are led by a dominant silverback (adult male), who must lead the group’s daily travels and activities, keep the group cohesive, and defend the group from outside intruders. He usually also has the best access to the females for mating. Cantsbee was so successful at this that he oversaw the group’s growth to a record 65 members, sired more offspring than any other male we’ve documented, and held the longest reign of power of any other silverback.


Cantsbee was a very impressive and successful leader and was able to maintain dominance and respect throughout most of his adult life. Our observers described him as strong but gentle, charismatic and authoritative. His clear leadership meant he was strongly respected by all members of the group, providing a clear sense of hierarchy. And respecting the hierarchy is the first and most important rule in keeping a gorilla group cohesive. So in this episode, we are focusing on male hierarchy, since it is the most critical factor in group life. But hierarchy exists in both males and females, becoming relevant when gorillas reach sexual maturity, around age 8.

“Hierarchy among the silverbacks is so important that when there is more than one silverback there is literally a number one, number two, number three and so forth,” says Veronica Vecellio, the Fossey Fund’s gorilla program senior advisor. And Pablo’s group is a prime example of this, with its four silverbacks and three slightly younger blackbacks all involved.

Hierarchy dictates a variety of behavioral rules within the group, such as: deciding where the group will go; access to feeding spots; who can walk in front of whom; and male access to females for mating and for proximity during rest periods. Hierarchy also becomes evident during interactions with other groups, where males have to show their alliances with each other while facing an opponent.

Gicurasi is current number one

Cantsbee left his mark on the group in so many ways, not least of which was helping to raise son Gicurasi, who now leads the group. Gicurasi’s mother left the group when he was still quite young, and Cantsbee helped watch over his young son. But even before Cantsbee’s death in 2017, Gicurasi began testing out the possibilities of leadership, challenging his elderly father more and more often, eventually taking over.

Gicurasi, 23 years old, is in his prime and is the dominant silverback in the group.

*This image is copyright of its original author

One time, while the group was resting in 2015, Gicurasi approached Cantsbee and another silverback who was nearby. These two loudly grunted at Gicurasi but he did not stop approaching, and Cantsbee then stepped back to make room for Gicurasi to pass through. This kind of “crossing in front” of a dominant silverback (officially called a “displacement”) may seem like a small act, but our expert gorilla trackers and researchers know that it is an important sign that leadership is being challenged. Another sign of Gicurasi’s growing dominance desires was his ability to gain sexual attention from several females in the group around this same time.


By 2016, Gicurasi was already leading much of the group’s protection and mating activities, though he did this without “official” recognition from all the group members. And the number of displacements by Gicurasi increased, even though Cantsbee was sometimes still able to show strong opposition when they ended up fighting physically. Now, as the number-one silverback, Gicurasi is a strong and undisputed leader, in his prime at age 23.

Numbers two, three and four

The current number two silverback in the group is 15-year-old Dushishoze, also a son of Cantsbee. He has the trust of Gicurasi and plays an important role as a sentry for detecting outside dangers, and being second in charge when facing an intrusion. Yet, he spends time on the periphery of the group and is always last when the group is moving, which is not unusual for the number-two silverback. He also doesn’t get much access to the females.

Dushishoze, 15 years old, is the current number two in the group.

*This image is copyright of its original author

Number three silverback is 13-year-old Ubwuzu, a grandson of Cantsbee, who is less shy with the females and a very active subordinate. His good relationship with Gicurasi allows him to show off to the females, and his favorites so far are young Shishikara and Umwari. They seem to like him too!

Ubwuzu, 13 years old

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Number four silverback is another son of Cantsbee, 12-year-old Agahebuzo who is just maturing from his adolescent stage. He seems well aware that there are three silverbacks above him and that he needs to respect them. A few months ago he made some challenges to Ubwuzu but lost, mainly because Ubwuzu has a better relationship with number one, Gicurasi. Now Agahebuzo is calmer and knows to accept his lower rank.

Agahebuzo, 12-years-old

*This image is copyright of its original author

We are also watching the maturation of three younger males, blackbacks ranging in age from 8 to 12 years old. They are too young to be in the running for a position in the leadership hierarchy so far, but they are becoming sexually mature. One of these — Imfura — has grown a lot recently and some of the females are showing interest in him. But this may be temporary so we are watching closely to see what these three young males do, as they shift from playing sessions to flirting to displays of power!

Imfura, 10 years old

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Learning all the time



Even though we have been observing mountain gorilla groups for more than 50 years, we have only witnessed a few examples of dominance shifts between silverbacks, and most of those occurred due to a unique trigger (such as death of a silverback), rather than due to old age. So the Cantsbee hierarchy change was special to observe.



And now, with all the males in Pablo group, we have an incredible opportunity to study all kinds of additional details about male hierarchy, including individual variability, resilience in the face of change, and various strategies for success.



“Being able to observe the gorillas for many hours every day gives us the opportunity to accurately document dominance hierarchy, because it allows us to detect rare behaviors and reactions that last just a few seconds,” says Vecellio. “Most of the time, the males actually keep a peaceful tolerance and a certain distance between themselves, so it would be hard to see that something is going on if you just observe them for short time!”


Of course, male gorillas are not the only ones who establish hierarchies within a group. Adult females do this too, among themselves within a group. On very rare occasions, we have also seen an adult female take over leadership of a group, but only for short periods of time, when the dominant silverback had died and there were no other adult males to take over.
‘Like night-watchmen they patrol the dark nights; marching with intent and chasing all those unwanted into the shadows…those that do not run are removed’
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Switzerland Spalea Offline
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Maternal instinct...

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