March 4, 2013
Wounded Infant in Ntambara’s Group at High Risk
Bishushwe’s infant Amatwara was found injured on Friday (although he was at first mistaken for Pasika’s infant Turate). Female Bishushwe had probably joined Ntambara’s group on Thursday evening after having been on her own for a month, since Jan. 29. Other members of Urugamba’s group had already joined Ntambara’s group after the death of their lead silverback.
Trackers did not observe the aggressions that caused the injuries, but they were very likely inflicted by dominant silverback Ugutsinda, who displayed at Bishushwe a few times on Friday. She now stays close by his side.
Gorilla Doctors veterinarian Dr. Jean-Felix Kinani visited Amatwara on Saturday. The group was not seen yesterday because they were in a deep ravine on top of Mt. Visoke. This morning, we found the infant still in bad shape, with multiple wounds and possibly a fractured leg. Realizing that the risk of infanticide is very high, we conferred with the veterinarians and the Rwandan Development Board (park authority) about whether to intervene to treat the fractured leg.
The situation in this gorilla group is still very stressful. Bishushwe is very protective of the infant. Intervening would cause further stress and very likely Bishushwe would be left behind by the group and possibly forced to be alone again. In addition, saving the infant’s life now would not prevent an infanticide in the near future.
In the end, the decision was not to intervene at this time. Tomorrow we will return with veterinarians to further evaluate the situation.
We are very concerned about Amatwara’s chances of survival, but Bishushwe’s decision to join a group was predictable and definitely the safest one. She tried hard to protect her infant, but being alone in the forest with him was too big a risk.