By Dr. Noel

On January 9, I trekked to Isimbi group to assess the health of the 8 individuals in the group. Isimbi group lost their dominant silverback, Getty, on December 23rd when he succumbed to his injuries sustained from fighting with a lone silverback. 12-year-old silverback Muturengere has been trying to lead the group since, but he is young and inexperienced and under obvious stress, making him susceptible to illness. 

Young silverback Muturengere, now the leader of Isimbi group.

After trekking for two hours, we found the group in the Gasizi area of the park, at an elevation of 3,018 meters. Muturengere was initially found laying in sterno-abdominal recumbence while Africa, Isura and Ejoheza sat resting close to him. Poppy and Ruhuka and their infants were resting approximately 30 meters away from the group.  Muturengere was lethargic and moving slowly. He had a productive and continuous cough with nasal discharge. He sat up and fed some, but his activity level was not normal. Adult female Isura was also observed coughing intermittently. 

Adding to the stress of suddenly being thrust into the leadership role of the group, is that a lone silverback named Isonga is ranging nearby. Isonga could be waiting to take advantage of the young silverback who may not be strong enough to hold on to his females. Poppy and Ruhuka have already showed clear signs that they have not accepted Muturengere as the leader but have remained with the group for now. 

Poppy and her infant Inyungura, resting approximately 30 meters from the rest of the group. Gorilla Doctors will monitor this group closely in case a full blow respiratory infection spreads through the group and a veterinary intervention becomes necessary. More soon. 

You can follow the Gorilla Doctors health monitoring efforts on our Facebook page, where we post photos and notes from our monthly visits.

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