After a clash between Isabukuru and Kuryama groups on June 14, the young silverback Kubaha was left wounded and weak. MGVP’s Gorilla Doctors decided to step in an help him after he failed to improve much on his own. Here are the Doctors’ reports:

Kubaha yawning in his night nest on June 15.From Dr. Jan on June 15: We received a report yesterday afternoon that Kubaha, a young silverback from Isabukuru, a research group in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, had an interaction with Kuryama group and sustained injuries. When trackers from Karisoke Research Center (KRC) assessed him yesterday he was in his night nest and did not move from it all day, even to eat. I went to evaluate him this morning.

Wound on the shoulder and finger.We found Kubaha at 8:25am in the same nest he had been resting in all day yesterday. Felix from KRC joined us and we monitored Kubaha for 2.5 hours. Isabukuru group was 1.5 to 2 hours away from Kubaha, and Kuryama group was about 1 hour away according to trackers.

Kubaha’s swollen left eyelid and upper lip.Kubaha was shivering and quiet, but alert and responsive. He yawned, and it was apparent that his mucous membranes were pink and moist, a good sign. He had cuts above his left eye and the lids were swollen. The left side of his nose and upper lip were swollen.

Laceration on the palm of the right hand.He had a very deep laceration on the palm of his right hand and a smaller laceration on the top of the hand, but he was seen using those fingers for grooming. He had a puncture wound through his left hand and a 10 cm laceration through the skin in the armpit of his left arm. There were 2 deep lacerations on his left shoulder.

Wounds on the foot.The nail of the middle toe on the left foot is coming off, and there were bite wounds on the sole of that foot. There was a small puncture wound on his stomach and a small abrasion on his left knee. I saw no wounds on his back. His respirations were completely normal (12 breaths per minute, deep and regular). There was a normal defecation in the nest. His stomach was flat, showing that he hadn’t eaten anything in some time.

Laceration in the right armpit.For the first hour of observation Kubaha did not do much but shiver and change position repeatedly as if he could not get comfortable. He did pig grunt at me when I got too close, so he was very alert. As the forest warmed he began to look more comfortable, and started cleaning all wounds one by one. Finally he stopped shivering at about 9:45am. He was able to use all limbs appropriately, but preferred not to use his left hand.

Kubaha cleaning the wounds on his fight.I would say Kubaha has suffered moderate to severe trauma as a result of the interaction with Kuryama group and that he was moderately hypothermic in the early morning.

At 11am he moved from his night nest about 10 meters. At this time Felix and I left the area, leaving a tracker to monitor the gorilla. The tracker reported that by 3pm he had moved more than 100 meters, and was eating small amounts of vegetation.

After discussions with Felix, we decided that because Kubaha had improved steadily throughout the day and even began eating, we wouldn’t plan an intervention immediately. Tomorrow morning Dr. Jean-Felix will check up on him again.

Kubaha eating.From Dr. Jean-Felix on June 17: Today I found Kubaha alone and he appeared alert but moving slowly and eating only a little bit. When moving he stopped every 10 or 12 meters and was checking on us and resting. His multiple wounds are healing but there is a very deep laceration on the palm of his right hand and Kubaha seemed to be in pain when eating with this hand. He tried to vocalize, to call for his group, but was not able to do it. No immediate action is needed today but we’ll need to trackers to monitor him carefully and report at signs of deterioration.

Kubaha is relaxed and Dr. Jean-Felix approaches.From Dr. Jean-Felix on June 20: On June 19, KRC trackers reported that Kubaha had moved only about 5 meters from his night nest. Dr. Jan and I discussed how we could help Kubaha improve and we decided I would go to dart him with injections of an antibiotic drug to help with healing and an anti-inflammatory drug to ease his pain a bit. Volcanoes National Park Chief Warden Prosper Uwingeli, Veterinary Warden Elisabeth Nyirakaragire, and Dr.Tony Mudakikwa of RDB, agreed on the plan.

Dr. Jean-Felix prepares the darts.The next day, I went to check Kubaha with Volcanoes National Park Acting Law Enforcement Warden Damascene Hakizimana and a team of KRC trackers. We found Isabukuru group at 9am and began to look for Kubaha who we found 150 meters from his nest, yawning when approached him. He was not looking active or eating, so I decided to continue with the plan of darting him. 

Dr. Jean-Felix and the KRC team.Kubaha was darted twice, first at 10:52am and again 11 minutes later. He sat in same place during the dartings. He received 10 g of ceftriaxone and 300 mg of ketoprofene using two 5 cc Telinject darts. He did not move when darted for the first time, he just removed just the syringe. After the second dart he got up quickly and moved away. He went in the direction of his group, which was 150 meters away. We decided not to follow him so that we would not stress him further. We learned later that he did rejoin Isabukuru group. KRC trackers will continue monitoring him daily.

Please consider supporting the Gorilla Doctors by making a secure online donation. Every dollar you give goes to directly supporting our gorilla health programs and One Health initiative. Thank you for your generosity.

For the most up-to-date information about the Gorilla Doctors, “like” our Facebook page. You’ll find gorilla health reports, news items, photos, videos, and links to related content.