April 8, 2015
- as seen by -Thomas Breuer
Maturing western lowland gorillas, particularly juvenile males, often prepare for adulthood through intensive play fighting. Within the dense forest, these play bouts are limited to their particular social unit (or harem) and involve playing in trees.
At the Mbeli Bai, a swampy forest clearing in the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in Northern Congo, many different gorilla groups encounter each other, providing important opportunities for exchanges that include play fighting and threat displays. Gorillas will beat their chests, charge each other, or even wrestle.
Recently, we observed juveniles from a group nicknamed Zulu (after an African tribe) interacting with subadult members from Khan’s group (so nicknamed for characters from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.)
While the adult members of the group were feeding, the youngsters of both harems socialized for nearly two hours.
This is the magic of Mbeli Bai, a place where gorillas mingle.
EDITOR’S NOTE: One of our closest relatives in nature, gorillas face deep threats from deforestation and poaching. They need our help. The 7th annual WCS Run for the Wild supports gorillas. Sign up to run with us today.