A Tricky Snare-Removal Intervention in Virunga National ParkBy Gorilla Doctors Staff on Monday, October 26th, 2015 in Blog.
Virunga National Park trackers reported an infant mountain gorilla in Lulengo group named Bahoze was caught in a rope snare on Thursday evening, October 1. The park staff observed the infant’s mother, Maganya, trying to remove the snare, but inadvertently tightening the rope.
Gorilla Doctors director Dr. Mike Cranfield crossed the border from Rwanda into Goma, DRC after receiving the report. Dr. Mike and DRC Head Vet Dr. Eddy Kambale set out for the Bikenge patrol post early in the morning, tackling the rough, muddy country road in the Gorilla Doctors truck.
Drs. Mike and Eddy, along with a team of Virunga National Park rangers, trekked to the group immediately after arriving to the patrol post, ready to remove the snare and treat the baby’s wounds. The team followed the Senkweta trail into the forest, spotting fresh elephant tracks along the way.
Lulengo group was ranging in the Bikenge area of Virunga National Park feeding on bamboo shoots when the field team arrived at 10:55am. Bahoze was with his mother Maganya, and a nylon green rope snare was wrapped around the infant’s right ankle. Being the rainy season in DRC, it rained off and on throughout the morning, and the gorillas were huddled together, with mother and baby sitting hear silverback Lulengo.
Since the baby was on her mother’s back, Drs. Mike and Eddy had to dart Maganya with anesthesia in order to remove the snare and treat the infant. Darting Maganya was challenging as she was suspicious of the field team and hiding behind the silverback. After 30 minutes of waiting for the right moment, Dr. Eddy was able to dart Maganya and within 4 minutes, the anesthesia began taking effect. Bahoze remained on her mother’s back and after 20 minutes passed and other group members, including silverback Lulengo, moved away into dense vegetation, Dr. Eddy was able to dart her with anesthesia also.
Unfortunately, while Bahoze was under anesthesia, one of the juveniles returned and grabbed the baby and ran with her into the vegetation. When Drs. Eddy and Mike followed the juvenile into the bush to retrieve the infant, they found silverback Lulengo carrying her in his arms and charging toward the field team. After 30 minutes Lulengo left the infant laying on the ground and moved away, so Drs. Eddy and Mike were able to quickly carry out the intervention. Silverback Lulengo continued to charge and display, but the Virunga National Park rangers were able to keep him away long enough for our vets to finish their work.
Drs. Eddy and Mike found that the rope snare had not cut into the infant’s skin and fortunately, the baby was in good health.
They collected samples for future research while she was under anesthesia before administering the reversal to Bahoze and Maganya. Once both mother and baby were awake, the pair joined the group and the gorillas disappeared into the forest.
“It was a tricky intervention” said Dr. Eddy. “But Lulengo is a more tolerant silverback, so it could have been worse. In the in the end, the intervention was a success.”