SAFARI – SILVERBACK
Meaning of name: Safari is a Swahili name meaning ‘journey ‘
Age: Estimated to be about 35 years old
Who’s yo daddy? Nkuringo
Who’s yo mama? Mother unknown
Big and strong, that’s the best way to describe this goliath of a gorilla. That’s nothing new, you say, adult male gorillas are meant to be big and strong. Yes, but throw in Safari’s no-nonsense leadership style and you have a classic male silverback whose authority is unquestionable.
During habituation it was left to Safari to lead the charge against the trackers whenever they were sighted. This he did with zeal and ardour. But in time he gave in as he realised that the two-legged beings were no threat to his family.
This then begs the question: why would he be the male gorilla in charge (pun intended) instead of his father, Nkuringo? Was this leadership mantle simply handed over to him by papa Nkuringo, on the latter realising that his waning strength was a liability in his dominant role? This is quite likely as the leadership role in gorilla family is usually passed on from father to son, sometimes even before the death of the incumbent. The only obstacle that stood between him and total family control was the other silverback in the group at Nkuringo’s death: this being Rafiki.
Safari is thus named as he seemed to enjoy leading the group on long, meandering journeys in an attempt to shake off the habituating trackers. Luckily he was unsuccessful in his ploy as the UWA habituating trackers are a determined bunch. Eventually Safari got the message and now roams a limited homing range with his family.
Safari rules his family with an iron fist and this fist has been known to discipline errant blackbacks without hesitation. All the adults in this family know who is boss, but the little ones don’t seem to have been taught that lesson yet.
They have their daddy eating from their little palms. One of their favourite games is to imitate the older gorillas grooming habits. Safari is never short of little hands to groom him.
Safari is known to treat all the adult females with equal care and respect, however, with the birth of Kwitonda’s twins, it is clear to all that he has been treating her as more equal than the females.