Four rare mountain gorillas 'killed by lightning' in Mgahinga National Park

A family of gorillas

Four mountain gorillas in Virunga Massif, have been killed in a suspected lighting strike.

 “The Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC) is deeply saddened by the unfortunate death of four mountain gorillas from the Hirwa family in Mgahinga National Park in Uganda,”  a Public notice that was issued by the organisation’s executive secretary, Dr Andrew Sseguya, read in part.

The statement says that the mountain gorillas are suspected to have been killed by a lightning strike on  February 3, 2020.

The dead gorillas include three adult females and a male infant from the Hirwa family in Mgahinga National Park in Uganda.

He said that following the incident, the GVTC led a team that comprised officials from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Gorilla Doctors to assess the cause of death and identify the state and health of the other family members and a post-mortem was performed pointing the tentative cause of death for all four individuals to electrocution by lightning.

“Confirmation of the cause of death will be issued after a histopathology laboratory exam of the collected samples, which is expected to take 2-3 weeks,” Dr Seguya said.

The Hirwa family of 17 members crossed to Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park on  August28,  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.

Gorilla tracking brings in about 60 percent of Uganda's tourism revenues. The more gorillas there are in the park, the more tourists will come to spot them.

About 30,000 tourists Uganda to particularly track gorillas. It is estimated that the world’s gorilla population only found in Virunga Massif stands at 1,063.