On Sunday July 26th, Gorilla Doctors received an emergency call at 12:20PM from Volcanoes National Park staff – two-year-old infant Ineza of Igisha group was caught in a snare. Despite the time constraints (it was a minimum 90-minute hike after a 50-minute drive to reach the park entry point from Gorilla Doctors headquarters), Drs. Noel, Gaspard and Adrien rushed to the location singularly focused on saving Ineza’s life.

Infant Ineza still caught in snare when Gorilla Doctors arrived. © Gorilla Doctors

Location: Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Gorilla Group: Igisha

Gorilla: Ineza, two-year-old male infant

Gorilla Doctors: Jean Bosco (Noel) Noheri, Gaspard Nzayisenga and Adrien Ntwali

Date: July 26, 2020

Upon arrival Gorilla Doctors and park rangers found Ineza still trapped in the snare, exhausted and stressed. The snare was wrapped tightly around Ineza’s right wrist and some vines were also tightening around his arm. Ineza had fresh wounds, likely a result of his family group trying to free him. After their unsuccessful attempts, Igisha group had moved approximately 600 meters away.

Ineza was immediately anesthetized and removed from the snare. Working quickly, Drs. Noel, Gaspard and Adrien treated his wounds, administered pain relievers and long-acting antibiotics, and performed a basic physical exam.

Gorilla Doctors treat Ineza’s wounds and perform a basic physical exam. Left to right: Dr. Adrien, Park Ranger, Dr. Noel, Dr. Gaspard © Gorilla Doctors

Because Igisha group had moved more than a ½-km away, Gorilla Doctors kept Ineza under anesthesia while he was carried to the location of his group for reunification. Silverbacks Igisha and Intsinzi both charged aggressively at the intervention team who safely held the silverbacks at bay while Ineza was returned to the group. Umuhigo, Ineza’s mother, quickly moved in, picked him up and carried him back to the group. Close monitoring of Ineza will continue and we will report on his activity and wound healing.

As night falls, silverbacks Igisha and Intsinzi charge park rangers while reuniting Ineza with his family.

Gorilla Doctors and park rangers look on while Ineza is carried back into the group by his mother. ©Gorilla Doctors

This was the first snare removal in Volcanoes National Park since October 2018 when Gorilla Doctors rescued infant Ingingo of Amahoro group. In a sweep of the area where Ineza was caught, park rangers found and deactivated eight additional snares. As in the case of Ineza, playful, curious and inexperienced infant mountain gorillas are more often caught in snares than older gorillas1, causing distress and physical trauma. While endangered mountain gorilla numbers are increasing, the overall population is still relatively small and fragile, making every single life critical to the long-term survival of the species.

1Haggblade, et al. (2019). Outcomes of snare-related injuries to endangered mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla beringei) in Rwanda, Journal of Wildlife Diseases 55(2): 298 – 303.