Conservationists Mourn the Death Ndahura-An Alpha Male Gorilla

ndahura-silverback-died-bwindiNdahura has been Bitukura gorilla family’s current silver back and this family is found in Ruhija section of Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable national park found in the south western part of the country. He died yesterday- 18th December 2016 during the morning hours and his death was entirely an accident as it fell from a tree branch after it broke.   

Ndahura was only 28 years old and Mr. Andrew Seguya who is the executive director to Uganda Wild Authority confirmed during his interview with monitor that Ndahura’s was not in any way instigated, it was purely accidental. He added that it is likely that Ndahura’s next in line called Rukumu will step up as the new alpha, take care of the family and help keep the whole family together. Should this happen, his death will then have limited impact on the tourism business.

Ndahura’s death was witnessed by a group trackers that regularly do monitor the movements of these gorillas, According to them, Ndahura was busy picking fruits from tree branches just like other gorillas were doing and suddenly jumped onto a weak tree branch, it broke, he fell down and died right away. This accident happened around 8am at Hamusenene which is located just a 1 kilometer from Ruhija headquarter/ briefing centre.

According to Uganda Wildlife Authority, Ndahura was leading a family of about 12 members and it is now under the care of Rukumu who is a subordinate silverback and hopefully will become the next alpha. Fred Nizeyimana who is the Veterinary doctor from the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project worked on the postmortem and it was revealed that unlike gorillas that have died in the past and they were simply buried, this time UWA will have taxidermy done on Ndahura’s remains and later preserved in a museum. So said Jossy Muhangi is UWA’s spokes person

He added that they have had a talk with Makerere University veterinary department to let them embalm Ndahura’s body for the future generations to witness. This gorilla will be the very first to ever be preserved and this only because there is some strong attached to this particular silverback.

The death of this gorilla is such a huge loss especially because gorillas are very scarce and yet they generate more than 50% of our country’s revenue collected from the tourism sector. Today, there are about 450 mountain gorillas only living in Bwindi and Mgahinga national parks both located in the Southwest of the country.  It is also true that there travelers that are interested in visiting  particular gorilla families simply because of how their alphas behave for example they may be  aggressive and they like that aggressiveness, may be their age and may be how fiercely they protect their subordinates, among other characters.

Ndahura’s death came as a huge blow since they endure and survive so much from the jungle. They face challenges like the length of almost 4 years before reproducing. In their life span, gorillas go through risks of contracting respiratory diseases for example Pneumonia resulting from coldness and also territorial fight. It is always the alpha male that helps with ensuring security of their different families and now that Ndahura is dead, there is fear that the family might disintegrate, might lose some members, get into trouble and  fights with other families and face intrusion because there is no alpha to protect and keep them together.

Also, it is true that gorillas often mourn the deaths of one of their own and this stresses them out to an extent of reducing on their rate at which they feed and movement which makes tracking such a group a bit challenging. This has a impact on the economy because every habituated gorilla family brings in $4800 everyday because each family attracts 8 people and each pays $600 for the non foreigners.

Mr. Seguya said that about Shs 40billion is earned by the Uganda government every year from the sale of these gorilla permits. There are almost 72 people that visit Bwindi every day to see these mountain gorillas although just eight tem are allowed visit in every gorilla family. This total includes the revenue that tour operators tap, the tour guides, the hotels and lodges and other small business related to tourism.

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