Gorilla Doctors Head Uganda Veterinarian Dr. Fred was notified that a gorilla in Nyakagezi group had been caught in a snare in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park on Friday, September 13. Dr. Fred immediately began to make preparations for an intervention, calling Rwanda Field Vet Dr. Noel in Musanze to cross the border into Rwanda to assist him. Early Saturday morning, Drs. Fred and Noel joined a team of Uganda Wildlife Authority trackers to trek to the group, prepared to free the ensnared gorilla.

Nyakagezi is a known “trans-boundary group” (their home range extends over the border into Rwanda) and is the only group habituated for tourism in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. This is the oldest habituated gorilla group in the Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Area and currently has 10 individuals. The ensnared gorilla was a young silverback named Rukundo.

Silverback Rukundo of Nyakagezi group in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.Here is Dr. Fred’s report:

“We found the group at 10:30am in the Mutwarankoko area of the park, at an altitude of 2697 meters. Silverback Rukundo was about 20 meters away from the rest of the group. The whole group was very agitated and aggressive. Friday, trackers had reported that Rukundo had fought hard to get the snare off, loudly vocalizing while he struggled in vain. But Saturday when Dr. Noel and I initially observed Rukundo, we realized that the snare was no longer around his left wrist. We observed Rukundo for an hour to evaluate his condition and look for injuries. He was missing hair on his left wrist where the wire had been and had a few small cuts on his fingers. There were no major injuries, although he did seem to have some pain in the left fore-limb. In the beginning of our observation, he was lying down, but eventually stood up to chest-beat and move towards his other group members. 

Rukundo used both of his hands during travel. His abdomen was only about 1/4 full, but later in the exam he began to feed actively on vines and bamboo shoots. The silverback was bright, alert, and responsive and although still showed some signs of anxiety, he was not vocalizing as earlier reported.”

Silverback Rukundo’s left wrist was missing hair from the wire, but otherwise uninjured.

This is the sixth snare incident that Gorilla Doctors has dealt with thus far in 2013 in Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo. Just 9 days ago, Gorilla Doctors intervened to remove a snare from an infant mountain gorilla named Susuruka in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. And last month, a Grauer’s gorilla was freed from a snare by Gorilla Doctors in Kahuzi Biega National Park, DRC. Let’s hope that this is will be the last of the snare incidents for a while!

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