Rwanda’s “King of the Gorillas” passes away


One of Rwanda’s most recognized and venerable silverbacks, also often fondly called the ‘King of the Gorillas,” died earlier this week at the age of just over 35 years, having been born on August 24, 1974. “Titus,” as the dominant silverback was known, led as illustrious a life as might be possible for a gorilla, and in his young age was observed by the late Dianne Fossey and her team, followed by a multitude of other researchers over the three and a half decades of his life.

It was through such close observation that his life story became known, such as the loss of almost his entire family to poachers at a very young age, his forced abandonment by his mother when another group of gorillas attacked their surviving family members, and his eventual rise as the dominant silverback of a group of gorillas then named after him.

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Records availed by RDB -T&C show that the late Titus fathered more offspring than any other gorilla known in the Virunga mountains before contributing enormously to his fame and standing in the research and tourism fraternity, as every visitor was trying to see him “in person.”

In 2008, a documentary film was released featuring his life as “Titus – the Gorilla King,” granting him remembrance for long after his natural life sadly ended on September 14 when he succumbed to illnesses related to old age.

Titus had become a globally-known symbol for the fight for survival of his species and the eventual success of conservation measures triggered by the late Dianne Fossey’s life and death, defending the gentle giants of the Virunga mountains. But as the saying goes, “the king is dead, long live the king,” as surely a new gorilla will emerge soon to step up and claim the position of the late Titus.