“Gorilla King” dies in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park

A silverback gorilla associated closely with researcher Dian Fossey, that went on to be the star of last year’s television documentary “Titus: The Gorilla King,” died of old age in the Volcanoes National Park this week, the Rwanda Development Board-Tourism and Conservation announced on its Web site.


Photo courtesy Rwanda Tourism

“Not only was he one of the most powerful silverbacks in the Volcanoes National Park, he is possibly the most remarkable gorilla ever known,” the statement said.

“He was born on August 24, 1974 and has been observed closely by researchers, including Dian Fossey, throughout his entire life. Tragically, he succumbed to old age on September 14, 2009 at the age of 35 years.”

Dian Fossey wrote an account of her mountain gorilla research for National Geographic Magazine. Read her article from the January, 1970 issue: Making Friends With Mountain Gorillas. 

Titus fathered more offspring than any other gorilla known, the Rwanda Development Board said.

The silverback’s life and reign was recorded in the 2008 Nature documentary entitled “Titus: The Gorilla King.” Watch this video excerpt, posted on YouTube:

Video courtesy Nature

“Every gorilla death recorded is not only a great loss but a major setback to conservation efforts of removing the mountain gorillas off the endangered species list,” the Rwanda board said. There are only 750 mountain gorillas left in the world.

“How ironic that Titus died at a time when United Nations declared 2009 as the ‘Year of the Gorilla.’ He will always be regarded with great respect and be remembered for his charisma and affection for the group he led.”


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More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn