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One of our Photographer of the Year entrants, Nelis Wolmarans, shared with us a sombre update on the subject matter of a photo that got him a place in the 2017 finals – the silverback gorilla, Giraneza.

Giraneza yawning, silverback gorilla, portrait, Rwanda
“Morning Yawn” ©Nelis Wolmarans

Nelis had the following to say:

“I am deeply saddened to learn about the death of this phenomenal silverback, Giraneza. He had fought hard battles to secure a family of his own and finally settled at the base of Bisoke Volcano in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park with his small family.

It is believed that his untimely death was a result of an illness.

adult and infant gorilla, Rwanda
One of the females and her infant ©Nelis Wolmarans

He leaves behind two adult females, the 26-year-old Pasika and her infant Mashami, and the 14- year-old Kurinda and her infant, Nyampinga.

The trackers from Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund are keeping a close eye on the two mothers and their young.

adult and infant gorilla, Rwanda
The other female and her infant ©Nelis Wolmarans

Despite his fearsome reputation in gorilla circles, Giraneza was a true ‘Gentle Giant’ to the people who had the privilege of visiting him and his family. R.I.P big guy!”

R.I.P Giraneza ©Nelis Wolmarans

Also read: Mountain gorilla population continues to rise

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