4 Endangered Mountain Gorillas killed by lightning in Mgahinga

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Endangered Mountain Gorillas

Four endangered mountain gorillas have been killed by lightning strike in Mgahinga Gorilla Natonal Park. According to the Uganda Wildlife Authority, three adult females, one of whom was pregnant, and a newborn infant were killed by lightening in Mgahinga National Park.

An international response team led by the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration conducted field and post-mortem analyses that indicate the gorillas were struck by lightning during a severe storm on Feb. 3.

“Based on the gross lesions from the post-mortem, field assessment observation and history, the tentative cause of death for all four individuals is likely to be electrocution by lightning,” the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration said in a statement Saturday. “Confirmation of the cause of death will be issued after a histopathology laboratory exam of the collected samples, which is expected to take 2-3 weeks.”

The four mountain gorillas were part of a group of 17 known as the Hirwa family, which had crossed into Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in August last year from the Volcanoes National Park in neighboring Rwanda.

It has been reported that the ranger reported hearing “the cries of surviving group members and chest-beating of the silverbacks immediately following the [lightning] strike,”. He called for the Gorilla Doctors, aresponse team of veterinary doctors and they went ahead to assess the situation on the ground.

The doctors found outh that other gorillas were injured by the lightning strike, but the 13 remaining members of the Hirwa family have been found “in general good health” and “significantly calmer” some 650 feet from the location from where the lightening struck!

The response team, alongside park rangers, will “closely monitor” the health of the infant and the rest of the Hirwa family over the coming days.”This case, while extreme, also highlights the fragility of the endangered mountain gorilla population,” Gorilla Doctors said in its statement. “While we know mountain gorilla numbers are increasing, the total population is still relatively small.”

In 2008, there were an estimated 680 mountain gorillas in existence. Now, there are believed to be just over 1,000.

The mountain gorilla, one of two subspecies of the eastern gorilla, improved in status in 2018 from critically endangered to endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

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