On March 28th and again on the 31st, Dr. Fred treated Uburanga, the dominant silverback of Hirwa group, for mild illness. We are happy to report he is recovering and returning to normal levels of activity. Here is a summary of his case and Dr. Fred’s interventions:

Dominant silverback Uburanga pre-treatment. © Gorilla Doctors

Hirwa group is originally from Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda; in August 2019, 17 individuals split from the group and crossed the border into Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Only six months later a devastating lightning strike killed members of the group on February 3rd. Following this tragedy, the group recovered and close monitoring found them calm and active over the next few weeks. Unfortunately, Hirwa group suffered another loss with the death of silverback Munyinya on February 21st after a prolonged battle with a respiratory illness that first started in early January (you can read about our early treatment of Munyinya HERE).

Munyinya had not been the dominant silverback in Hirwa group for quite some time, having been bumped from dominant status by the younger Uburanga, so there was little disruption within the group upon his passing. A joint post-mortem between Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and Rwanda Development Board (RDB), conducted by Gorilla Doctors, revealed severe bacterial pneumonia as the cause of death.

Silverback Munyinya, January 15, 2020 before his death on February 21, 2020. © Gorilla Doctors

Summary of Uburanga’s Treatment

Location: Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda

Gorilla Group: Hirwa

Mountain Gorilla: Silverback Uburanga

Gorilla Doctor: Fred Nizeyimana

Start Date: March 27, 2020

End Date: March 31, 2020 (monitoring ongoing)

March 27th – UWA trackers found Uburanga still in his night nest, not feeding. He remained in his nest most of the day, which is highly unusual. Trackers immediately reported his condition to Gorilla Doctors.

March 28th – Dr. Fred arrived to find Uburanga still in his night nest, with a flat belly (from not feeding), a mild cough and looking slightly dehydrated. At 11:00AM Uburanga left his nest and moved a short distance while half-heartedly picking at and eating leaves. Following his initial visual assessment of Uburanga’s clinical signs, Dr. Fred anesthetized Uburanga via dart in order to perform a full clinical assessment and administer treatment. Uburanga was given IV fluids, antibiotics, an anti-inflammatory/pain reliever and multi-vitamins. Uburanga was then given anesthesia reversal medication, and was observed for the remainder of the day to ensure a full recovery.

Dr. Fred treats Uburanga on March 28, 2020. © Gorilla Doctors

March 29th – It was clear that overnight Uburanga had made great improvement. He was active, feeding, but observed with a slight lameness.

March 30th – Upon arrival at 8:00AM, Dr. Fred found Uburanga already out of his night nest and feeding. Dr. Fred did not observe any fresh wounds as the source of the lameness and concluded that it was likely the result of some soreness around the site where Dr. Fred had administered IV fluids.

March 31st – Dr. Fred conducted another monitoring visit and found Uburanga feeding, and active with only a very slight lameness remaining. To ensure a full recovery, Dr. Fred administered a second dose of antibiotics and pain relievers via dart.

Through the vigilant monitoring of UWA trackers and the fact that Gorilla Doctors’ veterinary care is considered essential services in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to immediately respond and treat Uburanga, sparing Hirwa group any further loss in the near-term. Close health monitoring of his condition will continue.

Subscribe to our blog and receive them right to your Inbox (Click ‘Subscribe for Updates’ in right margin of main blog page). Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for regular updates and a continuous stream of amazing gorilla images.