On January 2nd, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park trackers first reported to Gorilla Doctors that dominant silverback Munyinya, had a mild cough.  Munyinya leads Hirwa group, which crossed into Mgahinga from Volcanoes National Park back in August 2019. Munyinya’s condition deteriorated over the next few days, prompting a partial intervention on Sunday, January 5th. The following is a summary of our monitoring, treatments and follow-up.

Clinical Diagnosis: Respiratory Infection

Location: Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda

Gorilla Group: Hirwa

Gorilla: Silverback Munyinya

Gorilla Doctors: Drs. Fred Nizeyimana and Ricky Okello Okwir

Start Date: January 2, 2020

End Date: January 15, 2020

Silverback Munyinya, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda. Photo Credit: Gorilla Doctors

January 2nd: Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) trackers in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park report Munyinya’s mild cough to Gorilla Doctors.

January 3-4th: Dr. Fred observes Munyinya daily and confirms that his condition is deteriorating, with symptoms of reduced appetite and weakness.

January 5th: Dr. Fred, supported by park staff, performs a partial intervention, administering medication (antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, vitamins and deworming) via dart.

Silverback Munyinya. Photo Credit: Gorilla Doctors

January 7th: Dr. Fred conducts a follow-up monitoring visit and upon arrival finds Munyinya still in his night nest at 7:00AM. Munyinya soon moves out of his nest to feed, trailing behind his group. While actively feeding and moving, Munyinya still has labored breathing and appears slightly dehydrated. By afternoon, group members are resting around Munyinya.

January 9th: Dr. Fred conducts another monitoring visit to check on Munyinya’s progress and finds him still in his night nest at 10:00AM. He is not feeding and still exhibits labored breathing. Dr. Fred wants to administer a second dose of medication but dense vegetation keeps Munyinya ‘hidden,’ with Dr. Fred unable to get a clear shot.

January 11th: During his third follow-up monitoring visit, Dr. Fred finds Munyinya lethargic, coughing and barely feeding. On this visit, Dr. Fred is able to administer a second dose of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory via dart. Monitoring will continue.

Munyinya on January 15th. Photo Credit: Gorilla Doctors

January 15th: Dr. Ricky and UWA staff conduct a monitoring visit of Munyinya following Dr. Fred’s interventions. They arrive at the group early in the morning and find all gorillas still in their night nests. Dr. Ricky observes Munyinya coughing just four (4) times over a period of two hours, which is a clear sign of improvement – during Dr. Fred’s observations, Munyinya was coughing much more frequently. Munyinya no longer has a runny nose, and while his feeding activity is not yet back to normal levels, it has improved. Overall, Munyinya is alert, responsive and improving, so Dr. Ricky decides not to administer further treatment today. Dr. Ricky notes in his report that the second silverback, Uburanga, seems to be leading the group during the time of Munyinya’s reduced activity. Close monitoring of Munyinya’s condition will continue.