Uganda Gorillas Killed by Lightning

Uganda Gorillas Killed by Lightning

Grace Davis, Contributor

A devastating natural occurrence happened on February 3rd 2020 to Uganda’s endangered mountain gorillas during a severe storm. These innocent creatures were located in one of Uganda’s National Park’s when the incident happened. Morgan Winsor gives more information about the gorillas saying,”The four mountain gorillas were part of a group of 17 known as the Hirwa family, which had crossed into Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park in August last year from Volcanoes National Park in neighboring Rwanda.” The four mentioned, were killed by lightning and terrible weather conditions. To make matters worse, one of the three adult females was pregnant with another baby gorilla on the way. The week of February 3rd, the three adult females along with a newborn baby gorilla, were found dead in National Park, Mgahinga, in southwest Uganda.

Though the situation was shocking and catastrophic, Morgan Winsor gathers information on the gorillas that were rescued. She says, “One of the adult females killed in the strike was the mother of a 1-year-old male, who was still breastfeeding while slowly transitioning to eating leaves.” She goes on to saying that the park rangers and the response team are completely willing to take care of the infant along with the other gorillas of the Hirwa Family that were saved.

The fatal storm was terrifying for these already endangered gorillas. A park ranger there the night of the storm comments on this claiming that he heard, “the cries of surviving group members and chest-beating of the silverbacks immediately following the [lightning] strike”. It is shocking and overwhelming to even hear or read about what happened to these four guiltless creatures, but it must be even more calamitous to witness or be in the same circumstance as this family of gorillas. The thirteen gorillas were checked for injuries and health issues soon after the rescue, but all that remained were unharmed and just a little shook up from the scary experience. One of the Gorilla Doctors mentions the fact that the gorillas rescued after the storm were, “significantly calmer”. This was because of their protectors who saved them and kept them away from any danger of the treacherous storm.

Before the storm, the Gorilla populations were increasing, but were still very small. Things like ebola, poaching, respiratory infections, and even some human-introduced diseases were causes of the decrease in gorilla population. Gorillas overall, typically, live pretty long, but have slow reproductive systems/cycles. Gorilla doctors also express their grief saying that each individual gorilla is a necessity for maintaining a stable population. They also go on about the effects of the female gorilla losses saying, “The loss of these three reproductively active females, one of whom was pregnant, and a newborn infant, is not only heart-breaking in the moment, but could ultimately have population-level consequences, making our veterinary work all the more critical for the gorillas that remain.” Gorilla doctors are very worried about this case and for many reasons, they should be. The dreadful situation that these gorillas were in must have been very miserable, but there are always going to be the heroes around to protect them whenever they need it.