Hopes to count the missing female gorilla and her infant among the survivors of last month’s killings vanished after the discovery of the mother’s carcass.
Conservationists in the Democratic Republic Congo (DRC) told BBCnews online on Friday that the remains of female gorilla called Macibiri have been found where four other apes were killed.
Still missing is Macibiri’s infant called Ntaribi, although conservation group Wildlife Direct promised to continue searching in Virunga National Park’s area of slay to locate its body.
An official of Wildlife Direct, Paulin Ngobobo, wrote last Thursday in Gorilla Protection blog that Ntaribi, a year-and-half-old, must be dead, too.
Ngobobo was quoted saying that “the guards came back from their patrol with Macibiri’s remains. Ntaribi has not been found. But now we are sure that the infant is dead too”
Robert Muir, project manager for the Frankfurt Zoological Society in Germany, said that no one held out any hope of finding Ntaribi alive.
“There is no way it would have survived without its mother,” Muir said
“It is just the case of finding the bones, or what is left of the baby’s body, and bringing it back to the station for burial with the others,” he added.
Regarding the welfare of the remaining six members of the group (formerly a 12-member family), Muir said the gun attack was unprecedented and had left conservation groups uncertain about the family’s future.
He said: “We have absolutely no idea on how the family is going to respond. In the absence of a silverback (dominant male), the family unit has been destroyed.
“It is quite likely that a wild silverback will try to take over the group, which will cause a fair amount of stress for the family.” The gorillas’ death toll this year has risen to nine so far. Only last month, five mountain gorillas from a 12-strong Rugendo family were killed in an attacked by yet unknown gunmen.