Four Mountain Gorillas die in suspected lightning strike in virunga gorilla park

Virunga Massif : Four Mountain Gorillas die in suspected lightning strike
Mountain Gorillas in the Virunga Massif. /Courtesy Photo

Four mountain gorillas from the Hirwa family in Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park have died.

In a statement released by the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC), it is reported that the four gorillas [three female adults and an infant gorilla] died as a result of a lightning strike.

“The mountain gorillas are suspected to have been killed by a lightning strike on 3 February 2020. The deceased gorillas include three adult females and a male infant,” read a statement from GVTC.

Africa Tembelea understands that a team comprised of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Gorilla Doctors were tasked to assess the cause of death and identify the state and health of the other family members.

According to Dr. Andrew Seguya, the Executive Secretary at GVTC, a post-mortem was performed and samples were collected for detailed laboratory analysis.

“Based on the gross lesions from the post-mortem, field assessment observation and history, the tentative cause of death for all four individuals is likely to be electrocution by lightning,” said Dr. Andrew Seguya.

“Confirmation of the cause of death will be issued after a histopathology laboratory exam of the collected samples, which is expected to take 2- 3 weeks,” he added.

Mindful of the GVTC transboundary collaborative framework among the signatory parties, Dr Seguya told Africa Tembelea that they will continue to closely monitor the health of the group.

– Hirwa Family –

The Hirwa family of 17 members crossed to Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park on 28 August 2019 from Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. The group is among many other mountain gorilla families that range within the Virunga Massif ecosystem, which is comprised of three regional parks: Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.