4 endangered mountain gorillas, which include 3 adult females, have been killed in an apparent lightning strike in a national park in Uganda.
A post-mortem examination has been performed on the 4 gorillas, which includes a male infant that died on February 3, 2020.
The male infant died in Mgahinga National Park in South-West Uganda.
In a statement that was released by the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration, they said, “Based on the gross lesions from the post-mortem … the tentative cause of death for all four individuals is likely to be electrocution by lightning.”
Laboratory confirmation will reportedly take 2 to 3 weeks.
The 4 endangered mountain gorillas were members of a group of 17 known as the Hirwa family, which crossed into the Mgahinga National Park in August 2019 from the Volcanoes National Park.
Andrew Seguya, the collaboration executive secretary, said, “This was extremely sad. The potential of the three females for their contribution to the population was immense.”
The other 13 members of the family are alive.
In 2008, there were only 680 great apes left, but thanks to amazing conservation efforts and anti-animal poaching patrols, the population of the great apes have increased to over 1,000.
Due to the successful efforts, the subspecies of the eastern gorilla was moved from critically endangered to only “endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s “Red List” of threatened species.
Covering the northern slopes of 3 volcanoes, the Mghinga National Park is part of the Virunga Massif, which is shared with the Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Massif is one of the most important conservation sites in the world and is one of the only 2 places where mountain gorillas can be found.