The morning of October 26, 2012, the trackers following Agashya group in Volcanoes National Park reported that 4.5-year-old juvenile male Ingabo, who had been abandoned by his mother in March, was caught in a snare. Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible for the Gorilla Doctors to assess the youngster’s condition the same day because of dominant silverback Agashya’s aggressive behaviour and the fact that the group was moving rapidly from the snare site. An intervention team was assembled the following morning including Drs. Dawn and Noel, Volcanoes National Park’s Veterinary Warden Elisabeth Nyirakaragire and Volcanoes National Park trackers.

When the intervention team located the group in the Kibumbu area of the Park, the young male was close to the silverback and clearly distressed. Ingabo was feeding on bamboo shoots with his right hand only; the snare was constricting his left wrist, and his hand had begun to swell. It was clear a veterinary intervention was necessary.

Ingabo was first darted with 90mg of ketamine and 0.425mg of dexmedetomidine to initiate the intervention at 8:59am. Although the dart appeared to have fully discharged, after 15 minutes, it still had no effect on the young male. A second dart was fired but bounced off. At this time, silverback Agashya had become suspicious and began charging the team. The decision was made to leave the group and give the silverback a day to become calm once again.

The following Monday, the team trekked back to Agashya group and located the group in the same area. Marco, an Agashya tracker who knows the group well, suggested to go in the group without surgical masks on in order to minimize dominant silverback Agasha’s suspicions. This time, Ingabo was successfully darted in the right thigh, and the sedation took effect within five minutes. The trackers formed a semicircle around the other gorillas and were able to push them approximately 30 meters away, allowing the team to carry out the intervention.

There was a deep laceration through the skin, soft tissue and muscle of the juvenile’s wrist where the rope snare had cut into his flesh. There was some necrosis to the damaged tissue but thankfully, there was no evidence of a deep infection. 

The snare was removed, the necrotic tissue debrided, and the wound was cleaned with betadine. Two loose sutures were placed in an attempt to reduce the exposure of the wound and antiseptic spray and fly ointment were applied topically. Ingabo was given an injection of pain medication and antibiotics to fight off infection.

The team reversed the sedative at 11:06 a.m.  Once he was fully awake, Ingabo moved quickly back to his group. Communication with the Agasha trackers has indicated that Ingabo is doing well and on the road to a full recovery.

Unfortunately, the stress on silverback Agasha when Ingabo was ensnared may have led him to injure another juvenile in the group that day. Dusangire, a 7.5-year-old male was reported to have been injured later in the afternoon, with bite wounds to his left hand preventing the male from using the hand. The team assessed Dusangire’s condition during the subsequent snare intervention attempt and although the wounds appeared painful, they were not infected.

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