Intervention to Release Ensnared Adult Female Busime in Pungwe GroupBy Gorilla Doctors Staff on Thursday, November 12th, 2015 in Uncategorized.
by Dr. Eddy Kambale
Pungwe, a group of 18 Grauer’s gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park, has been in the process of being habituated to human presence for tourism and research for about two years now. Drs. Eddy and Martin have been visiting the group regularly to assess the group members health, but last month, they performed the first ever veterinary intervention in the group, to release an ensnared female named Busime.
PNKB trackers spotted the snare wrapped around Busime’s right arm and notified Gorilla Doctors immediately. Drs. Mike, Martin and myself took the night ferry across Lake Kivu from Goma to Bukavu, reaching the Tshivanga Station at 9:10am on Tuesday morning, October 13. After two hours of trekking, the intervention team located the group in the bamboo forest around 11am. The group was feeding on bamboo shoots and the ensnared female was initially not observed. The group was dispersed among the bamboo, making it more difficult to locate specific individuals. We prepared the anesthesia dart and continued to look for Busime. After an hour of searching, tracker Paulin found her, sitting in the bamboo, calm and alert, with the wire snare wrapped tightly around her right arm. When we approached her, she moved away from us, so we followed her through the bamboo. She behaved normally, and was bearing weight on the hand, though not using it to feed. The hand was visibly swollen and a necrotic wound was present where the wire had cut into her wrist.
When we darted Busime with the anesthesia to begin the intervention, the female ran into thick vegetation and we lost sight of her. After 10 minutes of searching, we found her lying down, sedated from the anesthesia and got to work. We carefully cut the wire snare off, clipped the hair around the wound and thoroughly cleaned the injury. While she was under anesthesia, we also conducted a complete physical exam, administered antibiotics and anti-inflammatory/pain medication and collected blood samples for research and subsequent testing in the lab.
Throughout the intervention, the group remained calm. This was very fortunate, as these gorillas had not experienced a veterinary intervention before, and could have reacted more aggressively. When Busime woke from the anesthesia, she rejoined her group members and has since made a complete recovery.