Nkuringo, one of the oldest silverback mountain gorillas, is dead. Aged over 50, he was the leader of the Nkuringo group of 18 gorillas. His body was found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park on April 28.
The chief warden of both Bwindi and Mgahinga national parks, Asa Kure Musinguzi, yesterday said Nkuringo died of old age on April 27.
“Gorillas have a life expectancy of 60 years. Mzee Nkuringo had lost most of his teeth and used to move slowly. These were signs of advanced age.”
A veterinary crew took some parts of Nkuringo’s body to ascertain the cause of his death, he added.
“The essential parts of his body are being studied in the government laboratory in Kampala and a report will be released soon.”
Nkuringo was buried last week, Musinguzi added.
“We wrapped his body in a polythene bag and lowered it into the grave. This is done to help researchers access it easily during investigations or studies,” the official said.
In a related development, a new-born gorilla was discovered as the park officials were searching for Nkuringo. “It is a blessing. There are now 18 members of the Nkuringo group although mzee is dead,” Kure added.
The sex of the baby could not established by press time because it was under tight security. The Nkuringo group was habituated by the Uganda Wildlife Authority in 2002 for ecotourism.
In 2006, Zeus, a gorilla of the Kyaguriro group passed away at Bwindi.
Kyaguriro gorillas are habituated for research purposes.