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Rwanda: Four mountain gorillas die

Gorilla

One mother gorilla and three infants are reported to have died because of extreme weather conditions, the Rwanda Development Board has announced.

The dead mountain gorillas were discovered during routine monitoring by the RDB trackers between May 16th and 17th 2010.

The dead gorillas have been identified as Intwali and her 1.5 year old baby- Mutesi (named last year), a baby belonging to Mahane and Imvune’s two-week old baby discovered Monday morning.

Efforts by veterinary doctors to save the babies were futile.

Though the doctors are now conducting a necropsy, it is suspected that the cause of death is attributed to the extreme cold in the last few days.

The dead gorillas belonged to Pablo and Ugenda group which are settled in the Karisimbi area and is currently extremely very cold and at high altitude.

“While it is not unusual to witness death of infant gorillas during the first three months, the sudden death of all the four, is not only very shocking, but also is such a great loss to Rwanda and the entire conservation team,” said Rica Rwigamba, the RDB Head of Tourism and Conservation said.

“Every gorilla death is a major setback to conservation efforts to remove the mountain gorillas off the critically endangered species list”.

However, she confirmed that tourism activities have not been affected, since the deaths recorded were in a research group – that are only reserved for research purposes and are closely monitored by researchers.

Rwigamba also noted that the final preparations of the Kwita Izina, the gorilla naming ceremony, are proceeding well

Of an approximately 380-400 gorillas living in the Virunga massif ranging between Rwanda, DRC and Uganda, Rwanda is home to at least 265 which are regularly monitored.

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1 comment

1 Ian Redmond { 05.21.10 at 6:59 am }

The death of four gorillas in Volcanoes National Park is sad news, of course, but unless the post mortem results show something contagious, it may be just a natural event – likely to be down to the cold weather. The long-term records show there is about 40 per cent mortality in infant mountain gorillas. The difference now compared to say 50 years ago is that there are human observers to record such events, but as in human populations an extreme cold spell can be the cause of death for weak or ill individuals who might have otherwise recovered. One could argue that 50 years ago the gorillas had more lowland forest to descend into in the event of cold weather, but the loss of that habitat is now a historical event and the park borders are now unlikely to contract – in fact last year possible plans to reclaim some of the lost land were announced. And past census results show that there are more young in habituated groups than unhabituated ones, so overall things are getting better for the mountain gorillas – though sadly not for the other three sub-species (hope you have seen Last Stand of the Gorilla – you can download it from http://www.unep.org/grasp, and an updated version will be launched on World Environment Day, 5th June)

Cheers,

Ian

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