September 8, 2011
Mountain Gorilla Awaiting Medical Intervention
Twenty-year-old female Ntobo appeared very weak and lethargic when our Karisoke trackers arrived in Bwenge's group today. Veronica Vecellio, the Fossey Fund's Gorilla program coordinator reported that Ntobo's breathing was extremely labored and she was panting considerably.
Because mountain gorillas are highly susceptible to life-threatening respiratory diseases, both the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) and the Fossey Fund consider it extremely important to access Ntobo's situation immediately. After observing Ntobo tomorrow morning, veterinarians from the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) and Fossey Fund staff members, with permission from the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), will carry out a medical intervention to fully access her health and condition if necessary.
If further intervention is deemed necessary, Drs. Jean-Felix Kinani and Jan Ramer of MGVP will anesthetize her and conduct the physical examination and medical assessment, administering antibiotics if necessary and collecting samples for further testing. In order to protect the veterinarians from the silverback and other potentially agitated members of Bwenge's group, the Fossey Fund will organize a large team of trackers to form a protective shield around the doctors while they work. Dr. Jean-Felix said that silverback Bwenge is already aware of Ntobo's deteriorating health condition as he was observed displaying and gently pushing her when she did not keep up with the group's pace today.
Ntobo is mother to 3-1/2-year-old infant Ntaribi. Considering the age of her infant, Vecellio notes that it is a possibility that Ntobo could be pregnant again. An account of tomorrow's observations and results of a possible medical intervention will be reported promptly. Stay tuned!
Jessica Burbridge, Field Communications Officer