Just 3 weeks after Rukundo became ensnared in Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Dr. Fred was notified by park authorities that another veterinary assessment was necessary for the silverback- this time, for a potential respiratory infection. Here is Dr. Fred’s report:

Silverback Rukundo of Nyakagezi group

“Trackers reported that the young silverback Rukundo was observed with a bad cough and showing signs of weakness on September 30th 2013. He had not moved out of his night nest until late in the afternoon. He was not observed feeding with his group members, however, the group stayed within 50 meters distance of Rukundo’s nest. I received the report on October 1st and I immediately asked my colleague Dr. Jean Felix to go to Nyakagezi the following day. I was to join him later for a possible intervention after the preliminary assessment on October 2nd.

On Wednesday morning, I trekked to Nyakagezi group with Dr. Jean Felix, UWA tourism warden Moses Turinawe, and a team of trackers and porters who carried our intervention kits. We reached the group at 10:00am in the Bisasa area of the park, at an altitude of 2072 meters. We located Rukundo who was about 5-10 meters away from the rest of the group members after checking all other gorillas. Usually playful and curious, Rukundo was lying down and was not feeding. He slowly moved to follow the group. We examined him from head to limbs: although there were no observed injuries, he was weak and very lethargic. The silverback had a productive cough and was observed grooming his nose as if he had nasal discharge. His abdomen was almost flat, indicating he had not fed in quite a while. Much as he tried, he could not loudly vocalize at our presence.  

Dr. Jean Felix and I made the decision to intervene and treat Rukundo with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.  We prepared two darts of Cefazolin and Ketoprofen. The group was becoming agitated, having survived 2 snare incidents within the last month, and I was only able to administer one medication dart. The group became very nervous after the first darting and we made the decision to administer the second dose of medications tomorrow. In the meantime, the Nyakagezi group trackers will monitor Rukundo closely.”

More to come soon….

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