This blog was written by Dr. Mike.

On May 24, Karisoke Research Center (KRC) reported that the infant Infura of Pablo group was caught in a rope snare in Volcanoes National Park. The next morning, a team from MGVP and KRC trekked to Pablo group, prepared for an intervention. Unfortunately the group was highly agitated and KRC tracker John Boaco Twahirwa was bitten by the silverback Gicurasi. We called off the intervention for the day so that John Bosco could receive medical care. We decided to give Pablo group some time to calm down. Thankfully the snare was not tight around Infura’s foot so there was time.

Drs. Mike and Jean-Felix treat wounded KRC tracker John Boaco Twahirwa.On May 27, Drs. Jean Felix, Eddy, and I headed back to Pablo group with a KRC team for a second intervention attempt. Infura still had the complete rope snare around his leg, which other gorillas were pulling at to try to remove. This elicited a painful reaction from the infant. Infura, however, was using the leg better than when we last saw him.

We made up two sedative darts—one for Ishema, the mother, and one for Infura. It was difficult terrain and it took hours to get the mother and baby into a good position to dart. Finally the mother and baby were darted with excellent shots. They wandered off without making a noise. We waited 5 minutes and recovered the darts, both of which had discharged. However, neither Ishema nor Infura showed much effect from the drug injection. They gathered with the rest of the group were surrounded by silverbacks. It was raining and the vegetation dense, so observation was difficult. When the trackers approached, the silverbacks became aggressive. It then started to hail and the group started to disperse. It was approximately 4 pm and so the day was called off. We decided to try again in 2 days.

On May 29, the team left early in the morning and reached the group at about 9 am. The group was settled and quiet. We made up two more sedative darts. After about 45 minutes, an opportunity came with the Ishema feeding and facing away from us, and Infura on her back, also intermittently with his back turned. We easily got two great shots. This time there was more commotion, but Ishema separated out from the group. We found the darts and the mother’s dart had fired but the baby’s had not.

Dr. Jean-Felix with the rope snare.The mother went down and the infant was clinging to her. Dr. Jean-Felix cut the rope off Infura’s leg and then gave the infant a 100 mg injection of straight ketamine to sedate him.

The infant was taken to flat ground and Drs. Eddy and Jean-Felix performed a medical exam. The rope had been on the upper thigh and the tissue between the snare and the knee was edematous.  The right foot was considerably cooler then the left, but not swollen. When pricked with a needle, the leg bled normally. Blood samples and swabs (nasal, oral and rectal) were taken. The baby’s vitals stayed normal during the procedure.

Infura with his mother.The mother had blood and the same swabs taken. After about 40 minutes the mother started to stir but the exam on the baby and anesthesia were still being carried out, so I gave the mother another 100 mg of ketamine.

The mother was carried to a higher flatter space as was the baby. After approximately 20 more minutes the baby was stirring and able to hold the mother. The mother was given a reversal drug and both gorillas recovered uneventfully and moved off to the group.

Infura and Ishema wake up together.Trackers continued to monitor the animals and no further problems were noted.

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