A lightning bolt is believed to have struck the mountainside of Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park, killing four gorillas.
Three adult females and an infant male were found covered in ‘gross lesions’, which conservationists said indicated they had been electrocuted.
The gorillas were part of a band of 17, known locally as the Hirwa family. One of the females was pregnant.
The Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC) described the deaths as a ‘big loss for the species’, of which there are only about 1,000 in existence.
‘This was extremely sad,’ Andrew Seguya, executive secretary of the GVTC, told the BBC.
‘The potential of the three females for their contribution to the population was immense.’
He added that the 13 surviving members of the Hirwa family have been found and are feeding well.
Mountain gorillas live only in protected areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.
The Hirwa crossed into Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park from Rwanda
Post-mortem examination results are expected within three weeks, the GVTC said, when authorities hope to confirm the cause of death.