The Gorilla Doctors prepare to bring a severely dehydrated and borderline septic Yalala to the Senkwekwe Center for further treatment.
On June 12th, Southern Sector Warden, Innocent Mburanumwe, was notified by his rangers at the Gikeri Patrol Post that a baby female mountain gorilla had been found caught in a poacher’s snare. The baby had suffered a severe foot injury from the snare and had clearly been alone in the jungle for several days. Innocent immediately called upon Gorilla Doctors Eddy Kambale and Martin Kabuyaya to free the baby and provide medical treatment.
Upon arrival, Eddy and Martin found the baby to be in critical condition. Although alone, there were signs the baby’s family had tried to free it from the snare. Unable to do so, the family had moved on. Initially, the baby was thought to be from an non-habituated group, but after closely examining the shape of its nose (one of the primary methods used to identify gorillas), the Gorilla Doctors determined their patient to be Yalala from the Kabirizi family. Based on the extent of infection in her foot, Yalala was likely ensnared for close to a week before being found.
Rangers and Gorilla Doctors alike hoped that Yalala could be treated and reunited with her family, but after closely examining her wound, Eddy and Martin found the tissue in her foot to be completely necrotic. With the lethal threat of sepsis looming, the Gorilla Doctors had no choice but to perform a field amputation of Yalala’s foot. Just as night began to fall, the doctors successfully completed the procedure. Yalala was then immediately taken to the Senkwekwe Center for orphan gorillas in Rumangabo. Over the next 12 hours, the team worked to stabilize the baby gorilla, but it proved difficult. Unable to start a regular IV because of her severe dehydration, the Gorilla Doctors opted for an intraosseous infusion of fluids — fluids delivered directly into the bone marrow. They also inserted a nasal feeding tube. Immediately upon receiving fluids and food, young Yalala began making a comeback. The previously listless gorilla let Dr. Eddy know she was on the rebound by biting him twice. Her bites were searingly painful, but Dr. Eddy welcomed the signs of her recovery.
Yalala in the capable hands of expert gorilla caregiver, Babo Ntakarimaze.
Babo Ntakarimaze, one of Senkwekwe Center’s most skilled caregivers, will be attending to Yalala’s every need in the coming months. She has just started what will be a long recovery, but before the year is out, she’ll likely be able to join her new gorilla family at the center. Until then, Ndeze, Ndakasi, Matabishi, and particularly Maishi, will be seizing every chance to catch a glimpse of the newcomer in the compound below them. No doubt Yalala will be equally curious.
To read Dr. Eddy Kabuyaya’s personal account of the intervention, click here.