Juvenile mountain gorilla Kabunga

On March 5th, Dr. Ricky trekked into Bwindi Impenetrable National Park following reports from park authorities that a juvenile mountain gorilla named Kabunga in Rushegura group was very weak. He was not eating and was being left behind by the rest of his group. His mother, Buzinza, is the female who our Uganda team treated in January for a serious bone infection involving her right arm.

Fortunately for Kabunga, the rest of his Rushegura family was keeping close to Kabunga: by the time Dr. Ricky found the group, Kabunga was the only gorilla still lying in his night nest while the others were feeding nearby. His mother Buzinza was sitting near him with blackback Kalembezi, feeding on a fig tree.

During this initial visit, Dr. Ricky conducted a veterinary assessment and collected fecal samples from Kabunga. He observed that Kabunga was not moving normally, staggering as he tried to walk upon Dr. Ricky’s arrival. His breathing was labored, and he spent most of his time laying on the ground or leaning up against a tree for support.

Juvenile gorilla Kabunga is not feeling well

Kabunga is not feeling very well

Kabunga’s condition was deemed life-threatening, especially because he was having so much trouble moving and feeding. Dr. Ricky decided to treat him that day with antibiotics and multivitamins, delivered in two separate darts to his right leg.

Trackers continued to monitor Kabunga the rest of that day and in the days that followed. While Kabunga was showing signs of improvement, he wasn’t completely back to normal, so Dr. Ricky returned on March 10th to administer a second dose of long-acting antibiotics. Dr. Ricky was very pleased to see that Kabunga was out of his night nest and feeding on berries with the rest of Rushegura group. His gait was back to normal, and he even climbed several trees and carried Ruterana’s baby for awhile.

Rushegura gorilla family spending time together

Kabunga (middle) carrying Ruterana’s baby for fun!

While we don’t know exactly what was making Kabunga so ill, we are thrilled to see that the responded so well to Gorilla Doctors’ treatments.

Juvenile mountain gorilla recovers from illness

Kabunga feeling much better!