A couple of weeks ago I promised to keep you updated on the death of Mizaano from the Habinyanja Mountain Gorilla group. Well I just talked to the senior warden in charge (Acting Conservation Area Manager) of the park who confirmed that suspects have been arrested but are currently denying all charges. The legal process will now takes its course and may take some time to complete.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is probably one of the best protected National Parks in Africa — but these recent events remind us that very real threats are never far away. Conservation success remains fragile and requires our vigilance.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority has posted an official release on the Mizaano event. This remains the best summary of what is known at this point in time. Let me quote it in full:
Friends of critically endangered Mountain Gorillas are mourning the brutal death of Mizaano (meaning playful) on Friday June 17 2011, of Habinyanja Family, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park(BINP) who has been the only blackback in the group.The carcass of the stocky gorilla who had been in line to succeed Makara the reigning silverback was discovered by the trackers on Friday morning with a spear wound in the right side of the shoulder.
Preliminary findings from a post mortem carried out by doctors from the Conservation Through Public Health indicates that the gorilla died a brutal death because it was killed by a spear through the right side of the shoulder into the lungs that got suffocated to death. It is probable that the dogs tried to fight off the gorilla and in the process the black back must have fought the dogs, and realizing that their dogs are their life line, the poachers decided to save them by killing the gorilla. Uganda Wildlife Authority which is charged with the protection of the mountain gorillas is working with security and other partners in conservation to bring the suspected culprits to book and end the vice of poaching.
It is believed the poachers had laid traps targeting other animals in the forest including the antelopes which ended up netting the gorilla.
Last year, a poacher’s wire snare which caught an infant gorilla round its neck in Nyakagezi Group of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, almost ended its life before the intervention of Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project Staff to remove the snare.
We hope to have more positive stories soon!