The conservation fraternity has suffered a huge blow following a loss of Ndahura, the dominant silverback and leader of Bitukura gorilla group after falling from a tree branch. The team of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) trackers who monitor the daily activities of the habituated gorillas were watching the gorilla picking fruits when the tree branch he was perched on broke under his weight. This incidence occurred on the early morning (8am) of 18th December 2016. He fell from a branch that was about 30 meters high. A broken tree branch also fell on top of him. Trackers reported that when they removed the broken branch, Ndahura struggled to sit up. He appeared to be in a state of shock for approximately 10 minutes after the fall, but his condition quickly deteriorated and tragically died 30 minutes after the accident.
A postmortem was quickly done by a team of veterinarians from Gorilla Doctors. The postmortem results indicated multiple fractures of the left femur, dislocation of neck bones and shoulder, massive hemorrhages in most of his organs, and rupture of the large intestines. It was concluded that the individual died because of massive trauma. He died at a tender age of 28 years old.
This is not the first time a silverback gorilla has died of a tree fall or unusual condition. On 6th March 2013, Ruhamuka a 30-year-old silverback in Kahunge group, Rushaga sector, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park sustained severe, sharp head and brain injuries after falling from the tree. He was bleeding profusely from the mouth and nose. He died instantly. Again, on 7th April 2015, Rukina, a dominant and leader of Kyaguliro group was hit by lightning. He was at a tender age of 28years. He died instantly. The case of Rukina is the first ever recorded gorilla hit by lightning. There are also reports of infant and adult female gorilla death from tree falls. Other reported gorilla deaths are from diseases especially respiratory conditions, snare injuries and gorilla inflicted injuries.
Bitukura Gorilla Group is within Ruhija sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The fascinating group which originally had four silverbacks is now left with three silverbacks, with Mugisha, the youngest silverback taking the leadership from Ndahura.