Uganda’s four African mountain gorillas died of suspected lighting strike from Virunga Massif, “The Greater Virunga Trans-boundary Collaboration (GVTC) is deeply saddened by the unfortunate death of four mountain gorillas from the Hirwa family in Mgahinga National Park
The Hirwa family of 17 members crossed to Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park on August-28-2019 from Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
The group is among many mountain gorilla families that live 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.
According to the gross lesions from the post-mortem the tentative cause of death for all four individuals was electrocution by lightning, although laboratory confirmation will take two to three weeks.
It is a sad event because the death of the potential three females which would have contributed to the population of the gorillas in the Hirwa family.
Good news is that the other 13 members of the group were found and are safe.
THE GREAT APES
There was an estimated 680 of the great apes left in 2008 but thanks to conservation efforts and anti-poaching patrols, their population has grown to more than 1,000.
Due to these efforts, in 2018 the mountain gorilla, a subspecies of the eastern gorilla, was moved from “critically endangered” to “endangered” on the IUCN’s “Red List” of threatened species.
Covering the northern slopes of three volcanoes, Mgahinga National Park is part of the Virunga massif shared with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the south and west of Uganda.
The massif is one of the most important conservation sites in the world and one of only two places where mountain gorillas are found.
Gorilla tracking brings in about 60 percent of Uganda’s tourism revenues and the more gorillas there are in the park, the more the tourists that will come to see them and the more jobs that will be created for Ugandans.
There are about 30,000 tourists that visit Uganda to particularly track gorillas. It is estimated that the world’s gorilla population which stands at 1,063 are only found in the Virunga Massif.