by Dr. Noel

On August 10th, 2013, the two largest gorillas groups in Volcanoes National Park (Susa and Pablo) interacted, resulting in multiple transfers of females and various minor to severe injuries. Kiki, the 3rd ranking silverback in Susa group was severely wounded: he had multiple cuts and deep wounds through the plantaris muscle and sole of his right foot. He recovered from all of his wounds, with the exception of the wound on his right foot. This was re-evaluated by Gorilla Doctors on November 26th and was determined to be healing slowly with efficient use of the foot.

Then, on December 5th, Susa group interacted with Isimbi’s. The next day, trackers observed blood on Susa group’s trail and saw Kiki limping, traveling behind the group and the wound on his right foot appeared much larger. 

Third ranking silverback Kiki of Susa group with a wound on his right foot.

Kiki went missing after the interaction with Isimbi group and then was observed again on the 25th, approximately 500 meters from the rest of Susa group, feeding but not using the right foot for ambulating. Pus was observed coming from the wound when he was trying to clean it. The report was communicated right away and a veterinary assessment was scheduled with potential for a full intervention or shot of antibiotic/painkiller on the next day. On December 26th Dr. Eddy and I, along with three RDB trackers went to check on him and we found him alone in the Gasizi area of the park.

The deep laceration through the sole of his right foot had some granulation on the wound edges, was swollen with pus discharge, increased tissue damage and signs of interfered healing. We did not note any smell related to the lesion during our observation.

Silverback Kiki cleans the wound on his foot.

We initially planned to conduct a full intervention, to clean the wound and deliver medications, but Kiki rejoined the group and, without a larger team of trackers to keep the other group members away, we were unable to do so. We made the decision to dart the silverback with antibiotics and pain killers: Cefazolin and Ketoprofen were delivered via 2 darts. A second shot of medications will be administered in 4 days time and trackers will report to Gorilla Doctors daily on Kiki’s condition. A full veterinary intervention for wound cleaning will be considered if Kiki does not show significant signs of improvement. 

Update: Three days post treatment, Kiki was observed feeding well and traveling with his group, but is still not using his right foot for ambulation. More soon.

3rd-ranking silverback Kiki of Susa group.

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