viernes, 13 de julio de 2012

Medical Intervention Team Strives to Save Severely Wounded Juvenile

ORIGINAL: Gorilla Fund
Friday, July 13, 2012

The intervention team at work
Today was a very intense day in the forest for our field staff. An intervention in Inshuti’s group was organized to help juvenile female Ngwino, who had been reported to be very weak and suffering from a several-days-old snare injury. Silverack Inshuti’s aggressive and unpredictable temperament made the decision to intervene very difficult, as somebody could have been seriously hurt.

The Fossey Fund's Karisoke Director Felix Ndagijimana went up together with veterinarians from the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) and the Rwandan Development Board (RDB) to coordinate the operation. They were supported by our staff from the Karisoke Research Center and RDB trackers, making a team of 17 people.

When they reached the the gorilla group, the trackers accompanied the MGVP vets for a first assessment. It was clear from first sight that the infant needed an immediate intervention. The decision was made to sedate Inshuti first, to allow the vets to operate on Ngwino safely. Inshuti was sedated, and after a few weak pig grunts he fell asleep in a few seconds.

Ngwino and her mother Shangaza moved away to avoid the people. The field staff found them 30 minutes later and the vets soon darted Ngwino. The infant screamed and immediately Shangaza came close to try to rescue her. Trackers formed a line to keep Shangaza away, and it worked.

Ngwino's wound
It was soon clear that Ngwino’s health was critical and hopes of a recovery were few. The snare was very tight on her leg, which had caused advanced gangrene in the foot. In addition to that, she had a deep, severe injury on her shoulder, with a completely dislocated bone. Very likely this second injury was caused by the other gorillas’ attempts to free the juvenile from the snare. Even worse, the advanced infection and gangrene had also spread to Ngwino’s arm and thorax. The injury is very serious, and vets and the field staff consider it a miracle that she made it up to now. All of the field staff reported that they have never seen a gorilla with such a severe injury.

The veterinarians gave her a dose of fluids and antibiotics and cleaned the infected parts very well. They also stitched up the shoulder wound. They considered the option of amputating both her right arm and left foot, but after a consultation with the park authority they decided not to do it.

After the surgery, the juvenile was placed close to silverback Inshuti so they would wake up on the same spot. Inshuti was just starting to wake up and was trying to react with pig grunting to the people around him. Soon Ngwino was darted again with a drug that reverses the anesthesia, in order to speed the waking up process. After that, most of the field team left, to avoid further stressing the gorillas while they were waking up. Just a few trackers from Inshuti’s group remained and could report that mother Shangaza went up close to Ngwino, grooming her for several minutes. All members of the gorilla group then started resting close together.

Despite the still critical situation, the intervention went very well. The vets did everything possible to save Ngwino’s life. It was a very delicate situation and all of the participants did an extremely good job. We are keeping all our hopes up for her to recover.

Inshuti anesthetized
Ndagijimana said: “It was extremely sad to see Ngwino suffering from such a huge wound. She must have been in horrible pain over the past 10 days and maybe more. I have never seen anything like that, and I wish I could have done something before to prevent the pain. It was an unfortunate sequence of events that prevented us from seeing her for many days. I still hope we did save her life today. The next couple of days will be critical for her recovery. In a situation such as today’s I feel extremely proud to be part of this dedicated team which included all the different partner organizations that put our strengths together to save the gorillas with incredible expertise and passion."

We are waiting for the full medical report from Dr. Dawn Zimmerman of MGVP for more specific details about Ngwino's health. The other infant of the group, Akarusho, is still missing. The anti-poaching team went to look for him but were unsuccessful.

We want to credit the full team that performed the intervention today: Felix Ndagijimana (Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund), Dr. Dawn Zimmerman (MGVP), Jean Bosco Noeri (MGVP), Dr. Eddi (MGVP), Dr. Elisabeth Nyirakaragire (RDB), five Fossey Fund trackers from Karisoke including John Ndajambaye and Fundi Hategekimana, and two RDB trackers.


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