The Aspinall Foundation

Introducing Mbwambe's new family in Gabon

Posted by Damian Aspinall on 22-Jun-2017 10:07:10
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As we prepare for the release of Mbwambe’s group to the freedom of the island, I take a look back at these young gorillas journeys.

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Mbwambe at Port Lympne Reserve, Kent 

Four years ago, Mbwambe travelled with her father Djala and her other family members, 5000 miles from Port Lympne Reserve in Kent to Africa, as part of The Aspinall Foundation’s Back To The Wild initiative.  After settling in to her new home and flourishing in the wild, Mbwambe was ready to be relocated – the first step of a longer term project to reintroduce a completely new gorilla group into the Batéké Plateau.


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Mbwambe explores Gorilla Island in Gabon

In November 2015, Mbwambe was transported by 4 x 4 to Parc de la Lékédi.  Lékédi already had two wild born orphans in their care, a 13 year old male called Rapha and a severely traumatised four year old female, Dikélé.

As expected, the three were initially cautious with each other. However, it didn’t take long – just a few weeks, before Mbwambe and Dikélé became close and Dikélé in particular became attached to Mbwambe.  Before long, all three were spending more time together and strong bonds started to form. 

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Dikélé and Mbwambe at Lékédi Sanctuary

Rapha, although still a ‘teenager’ will become a powerful silverback, able to protect the females in his group and Dikélé, despite having a traumatic start to her life, is now full of energy and her confidence is growing.  Mbwembe, has always been a gentle soul.  At Port Lympne she used to love a tickle from the dedicated team of keepers and often shared Djala’s morning fruit tea.  She has always been partial to food and this remains true today! 

You can follow the journey of Mbwembe, Dikélé and Rapha here on my social media accounts: