Vumilia, the older of the gorilla orphans in Mutsora, died in the early hours of today.
Vumilia on the right, Mapendo on the left, taken a couple of days ago. Vumilia - meaning Patient - was named as such because he was ill when he arrived, and he needed patience to get better. Mapendo means Love - and she was given this name when she arrived in Mutsora because she showed deep affection for Vumilia.
This is an incredibly sad day. Dr Jacques and Dr Eddy from MGVP have been working tirelessly over recent days to improve the health of Mapendo and Vumilia. Andre, one of the carers for Ndeze and Ndakasi, had also traveled to Mutsora to help with the care of the new orphans. The effort made by MGVP, ICCN, DFGF(I) and WildlifeDirect to save the orphans was significant. We all feel frustrated and sad.
Andre & Mapendo this morning
If you would like to donate to the care of Mapendo please make a monthly contribution of just $20 or more by clicking on the item and Donate button at the side of this blog. Alternatively you can make a one-time donation through the Open One-Time Donation button, and you can insert a note saying that you would like it to go to Mapendo. All these funds will be managed by Dr Lucy and her team in their entirety.
WildlifeDirect donations made through this blog have already been spent (about $2,000) on Mapendo and Vumilia, for logistics, communications, forest food, transport etc. And WildlifeDirect Gorilla Blog donations to the tune of $8K are in the process of being sent to the Gorilla Doctors to cover other costs coming up. The cost of working in isolated areas can be significant - getting forest food, making phone calls, moving around, flying around (due to poor roads and insecurity) - you name it.
Thank you for your support.
Update at 3.30pm with photos just taken by Virginia of Mapendo:
This is Virginia in Mutsora. I would like to share with you the images from today of my two little neighbors, the rescued lowland gorillas.
Andre tells me they were walking a lot this morning, Mapendo following the older one everywhere he goes.
They have chosen the cave inside this big tree to sleep at night and to take their naps, from the second day they arrived to Mutsora.
It is a large avocado tree
Andre feeding them here. Vumillia is enjoying pineapple a lot, Mapendo (the little female) prefers bananas today. Remember to catch more updates on Gorilla Doctors.
They climbed the Rwenzori Mountains all the way to Kyandolire and came back with nine different type of species (leaves and fruits).
Orphans are still picking up and there is optimism. These pictures are from today.
Eddy and Andres looking after them 24/7
Good news today, the baby gorillas have begun to regain some strength. The diarrhea has diminished and they are eating a little. Lucy from MGVP will post tomorrow.
I’ve just heard back from Mutsora, where the MGVP team have been working frantically to keep the two baby gorillas alive. The elder one especially, was in very bad shape, with a number of serious wounds. He had begun to show signs of giving up on life earlier in the day.
After a long struggle to rehydrate and provide anti-biotics, it seems he began to show some signs of recovery later in the day.
Lucy, the senior vet from MGVP will give a much better explanation than I am able to do on their blog Gorilla Doctors shortly, so do look out for it. Dr Eddy and his team have done an incredible job today. At first, we thought that the elder was going to die before the day was over, but the latest seems to be that he is beginning to show some signs of recovery, although it is still early days.
The vet team will make a decision on what to do next - ie, whether to move them to Goma, where the medical facilities are much better, or to keep them stable for a little longer in Mutsora, so that they can gather more strength before making the long journey.
Gaining some strength from each other company
Emmanuel de Merode
The baby gorillas were visited yesterday by the Eddy, the gorilla vet of MGVP. They will be posting on Gorilla Doctors. They are very traumatised, but it seems their chances of survival are reasonable.
They’ve been provided with blankets, food and medicine, and they are now being looked after by Dr. Eddy, of MGVP. We will be sorting out a comfortable shelter, in a house that we recently renovated, but which is currently unoccupied.
This was how they were when the arrived at Mutsora.
A carer will remain with them and begin the process of trying to heal them.
In the meantime, the rangers are focusing their efforts on catching the poachers who were responsible for the crime. It’s extremely important that incidents like this don’t go unpunished, because otherwise it will happen again.
We only have very scanty information. The two baby gorillas were being taken to the market to be killed and eaten. The poachers were intercepted by a MONUC patrol (UN peace-keepers) who seized the infants. Unfortunately, they didn’t record any names or make any arrests (they don’t actually have the mandate or the authority to make an arrest over a wildlife crime), so we have very little to work from at this stage. This is the statement left by the commander of the MONUC patrol.
It doesn’t say very much that can help to identify the poachers, just the circumstances of the seizure. The report states that the infant gorillas were recovered after a lengthy negotiation with the poachers, and reflects the fact that MONUC does not feel able to apply the conservation laws, and simply arrest the poachers.
Norbert Mushenzi, the senior warden, is going to take charge of the operation, which is good news. He is extremely experienced. He is travelling to Goma tomorrow, and will be holding a meeting with the MONUC officers, and try to trace back the events to the people involved. The operation will be managed from Rwindi, which is the nearest park station to Kanyabayonga. We’ll be supporting the operation (rations, fuel etc) with the support that you provided, and we’ll keep you updated on progress. Do read the Gorilla Doctors blog for updates on the two little fellows in Mutsora.
For those that asked, Samantha will be back on Wednesday, and will continue on Gorilla Protection with Diddy and Innocent.
Emmanuel de Merode.
This is Emmanuel de Merode. We just received some quite disturbing news from Norbert Mushenzi, a senior warden in Virunga, that two infant lowland gorillas were found by a MONUC patrol near Kanyabayonga, just outside the park, near the southern shores of Lake Edward. The infants were transferred to the park station at Mutsora this morning, where they are being looked after by Godefroid Wambale, who is the officer in charge. The younger one, who weighs about 10 kgs apparently, is in fairly good condition, but very young and vulnerable. The older one, about 20kgs, has been quite badly wounded by a machete to the shoulder and to the arm. We will be trying to get Dr. Jacques of MGVP up to Mutsora to stabilize their condition.
These gorillas probably come from the area to the west of the park, where to lowland forest starts, possibly from the Tayna Reserve. Eastern lowland gorillas are very similar to Mountain Gorillas, but live at lower altitudes. They are more abundant than the mountain gorillas, but have been badly affected by the war, and they have probably been decimated over the past 15 years. We don’t know that much about them because they live in very remote and insecure parts of Congo.
Unfortunately, there were no arrests when the MONUC patrol seized the infants from the poachers. The rangers are following up at the moment to see if they can secure the arrests and press charges.
Godefroid will try to update you on his blog over the next few days.