Ensnared Mayani (center) was sandwiched between sub-adult Buzara and dominant silverback Bukima when the team arrived. The snare can be seen on Mayani’s left hand. The tail of the snare is draped over Buzara’s back.
Gorilla Doctors Eddy Kambale and Martin Kabuyaya are no strangers to mountain gorilla intelligence, but what happened during a recent intervention left them in complete awe. Responding to a call from Southern Sector Warden, Innocent Mburanumwe, the Gorilla Doctors and a team of Virunga rangers headed up to Bukima to locate the Rugendo group and remove a deadly snare from the arm of young Mayani. Performing a procedure on a young gorilla is always challenging because the natural instinct of the family — especially the silverbacks — is to protect the young. Because the Rugendo group has three silverbacks and a blackback on the cusp of full maturity, this intervention had the distinct possibility of becoming difficult and dangerous. As expected, several of the silverbacks charged the team in an attempt to protect Mayani from the perceived threat. What transpired next, though, left everyone stunned. The dominant silverback of the group, Bukima, began chasing the others away from the Gorilla Doctors. Bukima then proceeded to maintain a safe perimeter for Dr. Eddy as he worked to remove the snare. Bukima clearly knew that Dr. Eddy and the rangers were there to help. And, he also knew that as the leader of the group, it was his job to manage the situation.
Silverback Bukima helps protect Dr. Eddy Kambale as he waits for Mayani’s anaesthesia to take full effect
Mayani with silverback Bukima after the snare was removed. Mayani’s wound is healing and he is expected to make a full recovery.
In the words of Dr. Eddy Kambale, “it was truly an amazing intervention”. We couldn’t agree more.