Just days after Nyakagezi group silverback Rukundo was reportedly ensnared – and managed to free himself – in Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Gorilla Doctors received a call that yet another Nyakagezi group member had fallen victim to a poacher’s trap. Park authorities contacted Gorilla Doctors Head Uganda Field Vet, Dr. Fred Nizeyimana on Tuesday, September 17 to report that Inshuti, an adult female gorilla with a 4-month-old infant, was ensnared in the Marembo area of the park. Trackers reported that the snare was wrapped tightly around her left foot, cutting through the tissue and causing significant pain when she moved.  

Adult female Inshuti in Nyakagezi group, estimated to be 20 years old.

The wire snare wrapped around Ishuti’s toes.

Dr. Fred, along with Head Rwanda Field Vet Dr. Jean Felix Kinani, immediately began to assemble an intervention team of Uganda Wildlife Authority trackers, led by Tourism Warden Moses Turinawe, and porters to carry the intervention kits. Early on Wednesday morning, the team trekked to Nykagezi group, reaching the group at 11:30am.

Here is Dr. Fred’s report: 

“After trekking for several hours, our team found the group in the Marembo area of the park, at an altitude of 2780 meters. Inshuti was sitting with her infant, about 5 meters away from the dominant silverback, Mark. Her older offspring (now a juvenile gorilla) was playing with Ndungutse, another silverback of the group, nearby. Other Nyakagezi group members were scattered around the area, feeding and resting. Inshuti avoided eye contact with us but she was not obscured by vegetation and the snare wrapped around her left foot was present; it appeared to be tightly cutting into her toes. After making our initial assessment, the mother gorilla moved into thicker vegetation, as Mark and the other silverbacks of the group followed. 

UWA trackers Ishmael, Deus, Dan, Hashaka, and Mateke formed the advance team to accompany Dr. Jean Felix and myself. The Warden led a back-up team, composed of UWA trackers Laurian, Dan, Geofrey, and Bernard. Our plan was to dart Inshuti and the team of trackers would form a barrier between her and the silverbacks, to protect her small infant from possible injury.  

At 3:40pm, Inshuti was darted in her left side with Ketamine and Dexmeditomidine to anesthetize her for the intervention. Immediately after darting, she moved quickly away from our team and had traveled ~40 meters before the anesthetic began to take affect. The silverbacks charged as predicted, but the strong team of trackers managed to prevent the males from coming in close proximity with the female and her infant. Throughout the intervention, the silverbacks displayed and chest-beat, but the trackers held their ground.

Once Inshuti was under anesthesia, Dr. Jean Felix and I conducted a full physical exam and collected samples for future research and testing. The wire snare had cut into the flesh of all 4 toes and caused her left foot to become swollen. The wounds were cleaned and we administered Cetriaxone and Ketoprofen to help with healing and pain.  

Gorilla Doctors, accompanied by Uganda Wildlife Authority staff.

The wire snare cut into all four toes on Inshuti’s left foot.

Although Inshuti had continued to hold and carry her infant throughout her ordeal, she was unable to hold the baby while under anesthesia. The infant sat either next to or on top of her mother, crying intermittently, throughout the intervention.

Inshuti’s 4-month-old infant stayed close to her mother throughout the intervention.

After 40 minutes, the intervention was complete and Antiseden was administered to reverse the anesthesia. 16 minutes later, she was sitting up and holding her baby. She soon rejoined the other group members, with clean wounds and free of the wire snare.”

**This was the third snare intervention by Gorilla Doctors in the past month and the sixth snare intervention conducted by Gorilla Doctors in Rwanda, Uganda, DRC since January 2013.**

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