Titus Gorilla Family

Titus Gorilla Family

Titus is one of 12 Gorilla Families currently habituated in Volcanoes National Park and was named after the dominant silverback who migrated from a humble family during Dian Fossey’s time. It is one of the families with few members but its historical background makes it worth trekking during Rwanda Gorilla Safaris. Titus family is also one of the oldest Families studied by Dian Fossey during her research within Karisoke Research Center.

At four years old, Titus met a blackback from another group and was later named Beetsme. Titus biological father (Uncle Bert) was murdered by poachers. Beetsme being older than Titus attempted to take over leadership of the Family and because of this ambition he killed the infant daughter of Adult female and Titus Mother (Aunt Flossie).

He was profusely rejected and some of the females left the family. Other females joined the family and Beetsme a fully grown silverback then became the leader. Being a jealousy male, he sent away all males except Titus. At this time Titus was still a blackback and remained subordinate to Beetsme for at least 6 years and was obviously favored in the eyes of Beetsme. Titus is said to have fathered his first son – Kuryama at 11 years with the group’s Alpha female – Papoose. The more Titus grew, the more he asserted dominance over other males in the family and by 1991 he was a fully matured silverback gorilla.

At 18 years, Titus displaced Beetsme as the family leader although the latter remained as the former’s subordinate until his death in 2001. Titus broke the World’s record of siring the highest number of offsprings (up to 20 offsprings) and by 2004 he had the largest group in gorilla history. At this time his son Kuryama was also maturing and constantly having fights. No silverback entertains competition and Titus was once captured biting a female gorilla after being caught red-handed mating with Kuryama in secret. This shocked rangers and researchers because Titus was always known to be a calm silverback.

In 2009, Titus’ lost son – Rano emerged from nowhere, challenging Titus leadership (through fights) making him more stressed. This prompted Titus to flee with his followers but days of no rest and wounds from the fight with Rano made him exhausted and sick. Titus died on 14th September 2009 at the age of 35 years.

Trekking Titus Gorilla Family.

The first requirement of trekking Titus Gorilla Family is physical fitness, being of age (15 years and above) and possessing a valid gorilla permit (costing $1500) per person. Permits have to be booked at least 6 months before the intended Trekking date to avoid disappointments. Treks begin with briefing at the park headquarters, then 20-30 minutes’ drive to the trailhead outside Volcanoes National Park.

Actual search for mountain gorillas in the forest begin by 8:30am and involves ascending and descending slopes of Virunga Mountains, jumping streams and creating trails. After 1-3 hours, find the mountain gorillas grooming each other, playing, resting, foraging and nursing babies. The allocated time to watch and take photos is one hour and continue with other scheduled activities.

Best time to trek Titus Gorilla Family.

Trekking Titus Gorilla Family in the dense forest is favorable during the dry months-January, February, June, July, August, September and December when trails and forest paths are drier, less muddy and slippery. The heavy rains during the months of March, April, May, October and November make soils softer and trails muddy/slippery, thus avoided for gorilla treks.

Besides Titus Gorilla Family, other habituated families in Volcanoes National Park include Pablo, Hirwa, Sabyinyo, Umubano, Kwitonda, Amahoro, Agashya (Group 13), Susa A, Karisimbi (Susa B), Ugenda and Bwenge.