Virunga’s Bageni is a male mountain gorilla identifiable by an old injury on his left nostril – just another battle wound for this impressive silverback. After growing up in a troop led by his father, Kabirizi, he matured in 2010 into a subordinate silverback. At this stage of a male’s life, the drive to sire young is extremely strong, leading to Bageni’s inevitable challenge of his father’s position as the dominant silverback. On 27th January 2013, following multiple clashes between the two rivals, the troop eventually split in two, with Bageni taking 20 individuals and forming his own family.
After many births and battles, Bageni is now Virunga’s most successful silverback, commanding a troop of 48 individuals, including his mother, two brothers and a sister. It is thanks to his combative nature and fearlessness that Bageni has been able to maintain such a large troop. Despite multiple interactions with other silverbacks – including a 2019 feud with Wilungunla, who at the time led a troop of 40 individuals – Bageni has never lost family members following a clash.
Bageni continues to roam the slopes with his extensive family in tow, guiding them away from danger and towards seasonal feeding grounds. As troop members graze the forest, they help to shape the landscape, spread seeds and fertilize the soil. Flourishing in harmony with their habitat, these endangered gorillas offer a beacon of hope for their species, the future of which depends on the wisdom and bravery of silverbacks like Bageni, as well as those that follow him.
Over 200 Rangers have lost their lives protecting the Park's wildlife & habitats.