Four rare gorillas killed by lightning strike in Uganda

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Three were female and their deaths will strike a blow to the species’ future population

Family of Mountain Gorillas in a bamboo forest. The Hirwa group is led by the dominant male silverback named Munyinya. Getty Images

A young Mountain Gorilla feeding on the vegitation in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. EPA

A young Mountain Gorilla sits in a tree in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. EPA

A young mountain Gorilla frolicking in dense undergrowth at the Virunga National park in Rwanda. AFP

Family of Mountain Gorillas in a bamboo forest. The Hirwa group is led by the dominant male silverback named Munyinya. Getty Images

About 400 mountain gorillas live in Uganda. AFP

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The National

Feb 9, 2020

February 9, 2020

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Four mountain gorillas were killed by lightning during a severe storm in south-west Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park.

The lightning strike on February 3 killed three adult females, one of which was pregnant, and an infant, prompting concern from wildlife experts about the endangered species’ future.

“This was extremely sad,” Dr Andrew Seguya, of the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration, told the BBC.

“The potential for the three females to contribute to the population was immense."

The mountain gorillas were part of the 17-member Hirwa family, which came to Mgahinga National Park in August last year from Volcanoes National Park in neighbouring Rwanda. Now, only 13 members of that group remain.

An examination was performed on the four that died.

“Based on the gross lesions, the tentative cause of death for all four is likely to be electrocution by lightning,” Dr Seguya’s group said.

It said that confirmation would take two to three weeks.

In 2008, there were estimated to be only 680 of the great apes left in the wild but thanks to conservation efforts and anti-poaching patrols, their population grew to more than 1,000.

Because of these efforts, in 2018 the mountain gorilla, a subspecies of the eastern gorilla, was moved from the “critically endangered” list to “endangered”.

Updated: February 9, 2020 11:49 PM

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