Kabirizi is the most aggressive and most dominant of our habituated gorillas. Kabirizi was a non-habituated Silverback in the Gorilla Sector for the first part of his life, but in 1997 Ndungutse, the former leader of the family, was killed in crossfire between the army and rebels. It was then that Kabirizi took charge and the family has been growing ever since.
The journey has not been without its ups and downs. In 1997 when he took control of the family, he had such a serious interaction with Buhanga, another Silverback, that left Buhanga close to death. We had to call the vet who decided not to intervene – and fortunately Buhanga recovered.
Kabirizi is not without his weaknesses and he is also known to get scared. At the moment for example he is afraid that another lone Silverback is going to come and steal some of his females. So as soon as hears another Silverback in the vicinity, he ensures that his family moves away.
When we go and visit Kabirizi he often hides and peers at us through the undergrowth. He is quite simply not as habituated as an individual like Humba, so he does not trust us. He also often charges when you try and get a better look at him. He probably weighs around 220 kilos so imagine the size of him when he rushes towards you, pounding his chest, and baring his teeth! Of course you must crouch down and not look him in the eye. We realize this is perhaps not the natural reaction but it is what you must do otherwise he may think you want a confrontation!
In June 2007 Kabirizi’s family also suffered an attack. Nsekuye, an adult female, was shot and killed. A baby, Ndakasi, was left clinging to her breast and is now cared for in the Senkwekwe Centre with Ndeze by special ICCN carers.
Watch this impressive video of Kabirizi and Humba having what we call an “interaction”. In this case it is quite literally a stand-off. We were very lucky to be able to film this.
Kabirizi – in Kinyabwisha – means “someone who is very aggressive” – you now know why he was named this way!