Mountain gorilla family shot dead
Thursday 9 August 2007
A family of mountain gorillas, including a pregnant female, were found shot dead in a Congolese national park. Your donations are needed to help prevent more deaths.
The bodies of one silverback and three female gorillas, including one who was pregnant, were discovered on Sunday (July 22nd) in Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Conservation workers later found an injured baby gorilla which is now being cared for by vets in the town of Goma, just outside the park.
The gorilla family was well known to conservationists and villagers outside the park and had been named the Rugendo family, after the silverback. The group frequently roamed out of the park and into neighbouring villages to eat crops, but the villagers were used to them and would bang on pots and pans to scare them back into the park. Conservationists are confident they would not harm the gorillas as they have always shown great respect for them.
We are calling for an international independent investigation into the massacre to aid local efforts to find and punish the culprits before any more gorillas are killed.
There are estimated to be less than 700 mountain gorillas left in the world and the death of these gorillas is a severe setback to the conservation efforts ongoing in the country.
ZSL Bushmeat and Forests Conservation Programme Manager Dr Noelle Kumpel said: “The loss of a pregnant gorilla, two breeding females and a silverback is a devastating blow to the already beleaguered mountain gorilla population. If this pointless slaughter goes on we could be looking at the extinction of this wonderful and charismatic species in the near future.”
Since the gorillas were found slaughtered more guards have been drafted in to reinforce the patrols around the area. Each gorilla family now has a patrol assigned just to protect them. Funds have been diverted to put a gorilla security action plan in place, but only for three-months. More money is needed to protect them after this period.
The ZSL Bushmeat and Forest Conservation Programme works in a number of countries to protect forest species from poaching and other threats including habitat loss. In DRC the society, funded by the European Union, works in partnership with the ICCN (Congolese Conservation Institute) to help manage Virunga National Park and protect the wildlife in it.
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