Silverback Bukima displays stunning level of intelligence

Ensnared Mayani (center) was sandwiched between sub-adult Buzara and dominant silverback Bukima when the team arrived. The snare can be seen on Mayani’s left hand. The tail of the snare is draped over Buzara’s back.

Gorilla Doctors Eddy Kambale and Martin Kabuyaya are no strangers to mountain gorilla intelligence, but what happened during a recent intervention left them in complete awe. Responding to a call from Southern Sector Warden, Innocent Mburanumwe, the Gorilla Doctors and a team of Virunga rangers headed up to Bukima to locate the Rugendo group and remove a deadly snare from the arm of young Mayani. Performing a procedure on a young gorilla is always challenging because the natural instinct of the family — especially the silverbacks — is to protect the young. Because the Rugendo group has three silverbacks and a blackback on the cusp of full maturity, this intervention had the distinct possibility of becoming difficult and dangerous. As expected, several of the silverbacks charged the team in an attempt to protect Mayani from the perceived threat. What transpired next, though, left everyone stunned. The dominant silverback of the group, Bukima, began chasing the others away from the Gorilla Doctors. Bukima then proceeded to maintain a safe perimeter for Dr. Eddy as he worked to remove the snare. Bukima clearly knew that Dr. Eddy and the rangers were there to help. And, he also knew that as the leader of the group, it was his job to manage the situation.

Silverback Bukima helps protect Dr. Eddy Kambale as he waits for Mayani’s anaesthesia to take full effect

Mayani with silverback Bukima after the snare was removed. Mayani’s wound is healing and he is expected to make a full recovery.

In the words of Dr. Eddy Kambale, “it was truly an amazing intervention”. We couldn’t agree more.


  1. Tracey Hooker September 11, 2017 Reply

    Great story. Love a happy ending. Thanks for sharing.

  2. James Buddin September 11, 2017 Reply

    Thank all of you for your love and care 🙂

  3. Joanne September 11, 2017 Reply

    Thank you for illuminating the intelligence and compassion of these gorillas. Your work and dedication is a much needed example of how humans can provide positive change and assistance so nature can continue to thrive.

  4. Tom September 11, 2017 Reply

    WOW….KEEP ME POSTED…Really admire you guys for your travels. thanks for the updates.

  5. Sherry September 11, 2017 Reply

    I have so much appreciaion for the doctors and all the dedicated people working to protect these animals. Thank you beyond words.

  6. Tonya Torres September 11, 2017 Reply

    Thank you docs, you are sensational! And big thanks to Bukima for letting it go right!

  7. haya zommer September 12, 2017 Reply

    Thank you for saving these precious gorillas <3

  8. claire silvers September 12, 2017 Reply

    Extraordinary, but at the same time not surprising. So great this was caught in time.

  9. Iris Lee September 12, 2017 Reply

    Thank you for your love and effort~

  10. David Mateo September 13, 2017 Reply

    Something is starting…

  11. Steve September 13, 2017 Reply

    Tears in my eyes….

  12. Susa September 19, 2017 Reply

    This was so intelligent of him.

  13. Rodrigue September 27, 2017 Reply

    Bon Travail! C’est bien aussi de publier les infos en version française!

  14. Rodrigue September 27, 2017 Reply

    Bon travail! c’est bien aussi de publier les infos en langue française!

  15. Debbie October 1, 2017 Reply

    You people are the amazing intervention. Well done.

  16. Maya October 3, 2017 Reply

    Ejemplo a seguir! Felicidades. El mundo debe saber el trabajo que hacen y ayudarlos

  17. BARBARA November 11, 2017 Reply

    Not so amazing after all. They (the gorillas) have the same feelings as do we so-called “humans” – a title that leaves much to be desired – especially when viewing this tender and amazing film.

  18. Tara January 10, 2018 Reply

    That is so beautiful! They are so smart and amazing. Thank you all for making sure they are in good health and protected.

  19. David Park Musella January 19, 2018 Reply

    Think about the reasoning capacity it took to examine that situation and add it into the equation(s) he already had in his mind about his tribe, the rangers, snares, his personal experience, _et cetera_. Let’s hand the controls over to Bukima!

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