Gorilla Doctors Head Veterinarian in Rwanda, Dr. Jean Felix Kinani, received a call over the weekend from Volcanoes National Park staff that 5-year-old mountain gorilla Icyamamare, of the Hirwa family, was caught in a poacher’s wire snare and was unable to free herself.  Drs. Jean Felix and Noel prepared for an intervention and immediately trekked up to the group to free the young female.

5-year-old female mountain gorilla Icyamamare of Hirwa group.

Here is Dr. Jean Felix’s report: 

Volcanoes National Park trackers attempted to cut the bamboo where the snare was attached, so that Icyamamare could at least move freely until the intervention. But Munyinya, the dominant silverback, was very aggressive and not letting the trackers approach closely. Dr. Noel and I, along with Volcanoes National Park Veterinary Warden Elisabeth Nyirakaragire, found Icyamamare with her sister, Agasaro, and three other gorillas from the group. Silverback Munyinya was close by and visibly agitated. Agasaro was jumping and displaying, attempting to break the bamboo while Icyamamare tried to rip the wire off of her wrist. Unfortunately, the wire was twisted around the bamboo stalks and becoming tighter and tighter, causing more trauma and pain for the 5-year-old.

Icyamamare, with her left wrist caught tightly in a wire snare.

We darted  Icyamamare with an anesthetic drug and the first sign of induction was seen after three minutes. We first cut the bamboo with a machete and then immediately cut the wire snare off of Icyamamare’s wrist.

Cutting the wire snare off of Icyamamare’s wrist.

No external lesion was observed on the wrist where the wire was wrapped, but there was a superficial wound (~3cm long) on the palm of the left hand. Had Icyamamare remained caught in the snare any longer, the wire could have cause substantial damage to the surrounding tissue. 

Dr. Noel and I cleaned the wound with an iodine solution and determined that an antibiotic was not necessary as the wound was small and not showing any signs of infection. 

Cleaning Icyamamare’s wound with iodine.

After cleaning the wound, we administered pain medication.

Drs. Noel and Jean Felix administer pain medication.

While Icyamamare was still under, we conducted a complete physical exam, collected blood samples and swabs for future research and testing.

Drs. Noel and Jean Felix collect blood samples and take swabs for future research.

The group had begun to move on , so we worked quickly so that Icyamamare could wake up from the anesthesia and rejoin her family members. Fortunately, once Icyamamare began to wake and the field team moved off to observe from a distance, silverback Munyinya and her sister Agasaro came back. Agasaro curiously examined Icyamamare’s hand, which was covered with iodine. 

After some time, the group moved on into the forest. Trackers report that Icyamamare is making a full recovery from the incident.