Virunga National Park rangers bravely risked their lives to save Theodore, a baby mountain gorilla entangled in an illegal poacher’s trap, perilously distracting Mahindure, a massive 600-pound silverback, so doctors could free and treat the infant.

Theodore’s left hand and forearm swelled up from the tight snare restricting his blood flow. If left untreated, this could have caused infection and possibly death, so the team had to act quickly.

The rangers immediately contacted Gorilla Doctors for an emergency intervention. When the team arrived, they anesthetized three-year-0ld Theodore and his mother, Kanyalire, with darts, while the rangers kept Mahindure’s attention.

Baby gorilla being rescued

Theodore being treated by the Gorilla Doctors team

“There was a lot of commotion, the silverback wasn’t happy,” said director of Virunga National Park Emmanuel De Merode, “but they were able to move fast and effectively enough to apply antibiotics and treat the baby gorilla.”

When Dr. Eddy Kambale Syaluha from Gorilla Doctors woke Theodore back up, Mahindure charged at the team. Nzabonimba, Theodore’s sister, who ran into the forest when the other gorillas were anesthetized, picked up the three-year-old and carried him away. Syaluha examined Theodore’s mom before reversing her anesthesia as well. She quickly rejoined the rest of the group and reclaimed her baby son.

This is a happy ending to what could have been a tragic story, and De Merode warned that illegal poaching has been on the rise since the COVID-19 crisis due to a loss of revenue, reduction in tourism, and lack of resources.

The rangers are planning a widespread search of the park to find and remove any other traps and ensure the safety of the gorillas and all wildlife living in Virunga National Park.

Lady Freethinker applauds the selfless work of these rangers and doctors to save Theodore’s life.