Endangered mountain gorillas from the Bitukura family, play inside a forest in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the Ruhija sector of the park, about 550 km (341 miles) west of Uganda's capital Kampala, May 24, 2013. (Photo: CGTN)
A lightning strike in has killed four rare mountain gorillas including a pregnant female in Uganda, a conservation group says.
Three adult females and a male infant were found in Uganda's Mgahinga National Park with “gross lesions” on their bodies indicating electrocution.
They were part of 17-member group which authorities called the Hirwa family.
The Hirwa group had crossed the border from Rwanda into Uganda last year and had been living in Uganda's Mgahinga National Park.
The Greater Virunga Trans-boundary Collaboration (GVTC) called this a big loss for the species seeing as there are only just over 1,000 mountain gorillas in existence.
Samples from the post-mortem are currently being tested and confirmation of the cause of death is expected within the next three weeks, GVTC said.
The gorillas are restricted to protected areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.
Uganda's Mgahinga is in the Virunga Massif range of mountains which straddle the borders of the three countries.
"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,” Dr Seguya said.
According to Dr. Seguya, 13 surviving members of the Hirwa family have been found and feeding well.