Young silverback Muturengere was recently injured defending his group from an intruding lone silverback in Volcanoes National Park. During Dr. Jean Felix’s veterinary assessment on November 12, he observed the leader of Isimbi group interacting yet again with another silverback, Gicurasi of Pablo group.
Four of the six Isimbi group females (Isura, Poppy, Ruhuka, and Africa) came from Pablo group but were sticking close to their leader during the nonviolent, 2-hour interaction. Muturengere’s wounds from the previous altercation were clearly painful and he was unable to display and chestbeat. However, the wounds were clean and healing on their own, with no signs of infection.
Muturengere has had a tough year, first being thrust into the leadership role at the very young age of 13 after dominant silverback Getty died unexpectedly and then overcoming a respiratory infection likely exacerbated by the stress of trying to lead a group on his own. Though he had some difficulty convincing the females of the group to accept him as the dominant silverback at first, he has proven himself to be a very capable leader and gradually aquired a few additional females and even sired 2 offspring!
Two days after Dr. Jean Felix’s initial assessment, RDB trackers contacted Gorilla Doctors to report that Muturengere was not eating and that his wounds did not appear to be healing well. The Head Rwanda Field Vet returned to Isimbi group and found the silverback and his group members in the Gasizi area of the park. Though Muturengere’s wounds were numerous (five lacerations on the right arm, many smaller lacerations on his left hand), they were clean and showed no sign of infection. He was using both arms and hands normally when moving and eating and even displayed a few times during Dr. Jean Felix’s observation. An intervention was not deemed necessary, however the silverback will continue to be monitored closely until he makes a full recovery.
**Muturengere and his group are featured in a documentary about the work of Gorilla Doctors on CBC's The Nature of Things. To learn more about this documentary, click here.**