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Silverback Makar Receives Second Round of Treatment

Source: Dr. Fred,  Gorilla Doctors

Published: May 15, 2013

Makara, a silverback and leader of Habinyanja group sustained severe wounds from a fight with wild gorillas on May 3rd.  I treated Makara with a round of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory/pain killers on May 5th. The Bwindi Park trackers have continued to monitor the silverback as he heals from his wounds and 8 days later, they reported that some of his wounds appeared to be infected.  In addition, the trackers noted that Makara was not moving well and would lie down a lot. His feeding level was only fair. A reassessment and possible intervention by Gorilla Doctors was hence requested as soon as possible.

Early in the morning on May 14th, I trekked to Habinyanja group with three trackers and two park rangers, a porter, and a Max Planck Institute research assistant.  We tracked the group from the point of the previous day’s observation for over 1 km. We reached the group and found Makara with his group members at 8:39am. The group was in the Hamushamba area in the "neck" part of Bwindi, at an altitude of 1562 meters. They remained in this area feeding but later moved away about 1 km uphill.  The other gorillas in the group were congregated around Makara and he was clearly still in control of his group.

After observing the silverback for 30 minutes, I confirmed that a partial intervention to treat Makara was necessary due to the condition of some of his wounds. Makara was fairly active during my initial assessment. He was feeding, stomach was 3/4 full and showed some signs of general improvement. His body condition was fair. The left wounded wrist was slightly healed but could not be used during travel. The left eye was open and the wound was healing. But the large bite wound on his neck had some pus and maggots and Makara was laying on that side to keep the flies away. It was obviously necessary to treat Makara with another round antibiotics and anti-inflammatory meds (Enrofloxacin and Ketoprofen) to stem down the infection in his wounds and speed up healing. Full immobilisation was not preferred since he already showed signs of healing.

I gave the silverback a long acting antibiotic and plan to re-check in one week. After the second darting, Makara moved and tried to charge us. He vocalised frequently throughout the observation and partial intervention. Trackers will continue to monitor Makara closely and report any concerning symptoms to Gorilla Doctors immediately.