Gorilla Silverback Dies in Bwindi After Falling off Tree


Uganda’s wildlife conservation has suffered a major blow following a loss of a gorilla silverback which is said to have died after falling from a tree branch on Sunday morning.

Ndahura as he was named was 28 years of age and was the dominant silverback in the Bitukula family in the Ruhija sector which is situated in Kabale district.

The team trackers who regularly monitor movements of the primates said they had been watching the gorilla picking fruits when it suddenly mounted on a weak tree branch. He fell off to the ground and died instantly.

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The incident occurred at around 8am at Hamusenene, buy a kilometer away from the Ruhija post.

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) told ChimpReports that Ndahura headed a family of 12 gorillas which is now left with Rukumu, another subodinate silverback likely to be the next family caretaker.

“Fred Nizeyimana, a doctor from the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project is already working on a postmortem to establish the actual death cause of the silverback,” Jossy Muhangi the Spokesperson of UWA told ChimpReports in an interview Sunday afternoon.

Unlike previous dead gorillas which have been buried, UWA intends to carry out taxidermy on Ndahura’s remains (skeleton and skin) which will be preserved in a museum.

“We are proposing and have talked to the Makerere University veterinary department to embalm his body for future generations to see. This will be the first time we are preserve a gorilla because of the value attached to silverbacks,” Muhangi said.

UWA says the death of Ndahura is a big loss since gorillas are scarce and draw in more than 50% of the revenue generated from Uganda’s tourism. Uganda currently has an estimated 450 mountain gorillas in Bwindi and Mgahinga national parks, Southwest of Uganda.

“Some tourists come to Uganda to visit a specific gorilla family because of a certain individual silverback and how it behaves. They admire their aggressiveness, age and also seeing the things they do to protect their subordinates,” Muhangi said to ChimpReports.

The demise of Ndahura is significant since gorillas take a long time (4 years) to reproduce. In their life span, the primates withstand several risks including respiratory diseases like Pneumonia due to coldness and fights over territory and dominion.

“Silverbacks are especially very essential in sustaining reproduction and security of their families. We fear that the group which was headed by Ndahura could disintegrate, lose members, face fighting and intrusion due to absence of leadership,” Muhangi added.

Furthermore, gorillas tend to mourn deaths of their fellow gorillas which subjects them to stress and for some time reduces their feeding as well as movement patterns.

However, the death of a gorilla has an even bigger economic impact to the economy. On average, a single habituated gorilla family attracts 8 tourists every day, according to UWA.

The country earns close to Ugshs 40 billion annually from gorilla permits but this is in addition to indirect revenue tapped by tour operators, accommodation facilities, tour guides, porters and small businesses dealing in artifacts.


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