In late May, silverback Kuryama, son of the late Titus and leader of Kuryama group, was dethroned after losing a fight to the group’s two other silverbacks, Kirahura and Vuba. The rest of group followed new leader Kirahura and left behind Kuryama, who had suffered serious wounds. Kuryama himself had taken control of the group in 2007 when it was called Titus group, leaving his father Titus behind with a handful of members. After this recent fight, the Gorilla Doctors kept a close eye on the ailing Kuryama.

Kuryama looking badly the day after losing a fight.From Dr. Mike on May 30: Kuryama, the dominant silverback of Kuryama group, reportedly fought with the other silverbacks in his group and lost. He was staying about 1 km away from the group, not eating and not moving far from his night nest. I went to check on him with Karisoke Research Center (KRC) trackers and we found him in open terrain. For the first 20 minutes he was looking lethargic and not eating. There were a lot of flies and bees around him.

An open wound.After 20 minutes he got up, walked on all fours, and began to use both hands to eat. There were wounds on both hands and a deep, fly-covered wound on his shoulder. There were other damp spots on his arms indicating puncture wounds but they were not easily visualized. There was a large amount of stool in his nest and along the trail. No action is deemed necessary at this time. Another health check is planned for tomorrow.

Wound on the hand.From Dr. Mike on June 1: After my check on May 30, Kuryama was reported to be better that afternoon but the next day he was not moving and appeared to be in a life-threatening situation. Chief Park Warden Prosper Uwingeli and RDB Veterinarian Tony Mudakikwa were called for their opinions on an intervention and both agreed that he should be treated. Elisabeth Nyirakaragire, Volcanoes National Park’s Veterinary Warden, and I went with equipment to dart and treat on June 1.

Giranneza and Kuryama.When we arrived he was on the move and we could hear chest beating and displaying. When we visualized him there was a second silverback displaying towards him about every 10 minutes. There did not seem to be any aggressive action. Kuryama was walking well and stopping to eat while the other silverback continued to display. KRC Researcher Felix identified the other silverback as Giranneza, historically from Pablo group.

Giranneza.Kuryama’s wounds were healing and the animal was eating and holding his own against the other silverback. Due to the situation with the two silverbacks and the fact that Kuryama seemed improved the intervention was called off. Trackers will report daily on his condition.

Kuryama.From Dr. Jean-Felix on June 7: Since we last checked on Kuryama, he has not rejoined his group but is staying within four to five hundred meters of it. I checked on Kuryama again and found him alone, moving slowly and eating a lot. He was vocalized, calling to the group and was answered by Vuba. The rest of the group was 1km away.

From Dr. Jean-Felix on June 28: Over the past few weeks Kuryama has improved and is following his group but has not rejoined. He frequently calls out to the group and Vuba answers. For the past week we have not been able to visualize Kuryama because of severe rainy conditions in the park that make tracking a lone individual extremely difficult. We will be sure to note any changes in the situation once the weather improves.

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