By Drs. Fred and Hameed

Ruterana looking tired and thin.Ruterana, an adult female in Rushegura group, was observed by trackers to be moving slowly and laying down a lot the morning of September 26. They thought she looked very thin and unwell. The trackers called me and I joined them immediately. She did indeed appear weak, dehydrated, and emaciated. Her mammery glands were flat but her nipples were elongated, indicating she had been nursing recently. She gave birth to an infant on September 13 but she no longer had the baby with her. Despite our efforts to search the area, we did not find the infant in the vincincity. I decided to return the next day to assess her again.

On September 27, we observed Ruterana feeding and keeping up with the rest of the group, but there were no signs of her infant. I asked the trackers to continue monitoring her closely and call me if her health deteoirtaed further.

By September 30, Ruterana’s health had not improved. I thought her weakness might be attributed to a post-partum infection, so, after a discussion with park authorities, the decision was made to dart her with antibiotics to help boost her immune system. 

Ruterana’s very thin arms and legs.That morning, while waiting for tourists to finish their visit with the group, I prepared two darts: one with a long acting broad spectrum antibiotic, and the other with a anti-parasitic drug. After the tourists had left I darted the Ruterana without incident.

Over the following days, the trackers reported that Ruterana was gradually growing stronger and feeding more. On October 7, Drs. Hameed and Rachael returned to the group. Here is Hameed’s report:

Ruterana moving well with the rest of the group.We visited Rushegura group to check on Ruterana. She was moving in tune with the group feeding well on the fruits of Myrianthus and pith of Afromomum. Her stomach was full.

Despite her strength, her body still appeared thin, most likely because she has not recovered all of the muscle mass she lost during her illness. Although still a bit emaciated, the prognosis is good as she seems to be on her way to full recovery. We will continue following the rangers’ daily status reports on her condition.

You can follow the Gorilla Doctors health monitoring efforts on our Facebook page, where we post photos and notes from our monthly visits.

Please consider supporting us by making a secure online donation. Every dollar you give goes to directly supporting our gorilla health programs and One Health initiative. Thank you for your generosity.