February 6, 2012
Trackers Searching for Missing Gorillas
The Karisoke research gorilla group that has been hassled for weeks now by various lone silverbacks has been reported by field staff to be missing for the third day in a row. Inshuti’s group was last located on Thursday, Feb. 2. Two patrol teams, with the support of the anti-poaching rangers, were dispatched to search for the missing group Saturday, Sunday and Monday, but unfortunately they were unable to find a trace of them. Tomorrow, the teams will thoroughly comb the five Basumba hills where Inshuti’s group normally ranges.
The Fossey Fund’s Karisoke Research Center staff is extremely concerned about the group’s health and safety after the dramatic sequence of lone silverback interactions that has stressed the group recently. It is likely that another lone silverback interacted with the group sometime Thursday evening, pushing them into an area where they do not normally range. The field staff hopes to find the group tomorrow, with the members intact and free of injuries.
Also missing are female Umusatsi and her offspring, Rwema (from Kuryama’s group). The pair has been missing since Friday. Due to limited staff, the decision has been made to prioritize the search for Inshuti’s group. Inshuti has several serious injuries that he sustained from an attack by two lone silverbacks 11 days ago. The silverback must be located so staff can continue to monitor his condition.
Gorilla Program Manager Veronica Vecellio says "this is not the first time that Umusatsi has spent several days traveling alone with her son. She disappeared last November, but was found three weeks later in good condition."
Field Data Coordinator John Ndayambaje phoned into the Karisoke Research Center this afternoon to report that 16 snares were found and destroyed by anti-poaching rangers today. A Congolese man suspected of laying the traps was also discovered in the forest. The man was arrested and is currently being escorted down out of Volcanoes National Park to the police station in Kinigi. More to come soon.
Jessica Burbridge, Field Communications Officer