Bageni Family – From Heartbreak to Hope


Mafuko and her newborn twins

The last several weeks have been an emotional roller-coaster for the Bageni family of mountain gorillas, and for the rangers and veterinarians who look after them. On October 15th, Deputy Director and Southern Sector Warden, Innocent Mburanumwe announced the wonderful news that Makuko had given birth to twins. This was a first for Virunga National Park, and in general, is an extremely rare occurrence. For the rangers who risk their lives to protect the mountain gorillas, the news couldn’t have been better.

Unfortunately, celebration gave way to sadness when Gorilla Doctor Martin Kabuyaya and rangers discovered that one of the twins, a male, had died just six days after being born. With so few mountain gorillas left on earth, there was still reason to be thankful because the female twin was alive. Then the unthinkable happened. When Dr. Martin and rangers arrived to check on mother and baby the following day, they found the female infant had passed away, too.


Gato with her newborn

This was a sad series of events, but thankfully, hope was restored a few days later. On October 28th, Rwubaka, also of the Bageni family, gave birth to her second child. Not long after Rwubaka’s birth, Gato of the Nyamakwe family gave birth to her sixth child. So far, both mothers and their babies are doing well.

– Rwubaka’s first baby, Kagera, was born in September 2012.
– Gato’s other offspring over the last 20 years include silverbacks Makunda and Mahindure, adult female Kanyarwunga, sub-adult Kanyangara, and 3-year old Balingene.

To find out how you can help support ranger efforts to protect Virunga’s critically-endangered mountain gorillas and other wildlife, click here.

Sign up here to receive the latest news from Virunga National Park via email.


  1. Nicholas November 17, 2016 Reply

    Oh no! This is really sad news for Mafuko. May the souls of the young ones rest in peace. May the almighty reward her with a set of other twins next year.

  2. Nooooo! This is so sad.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *