SEVEN MOUNTAIN GORILLAS have been born in Rwanda since April, a promising sign for the survival of this highly endangered species. The world's only remaining mountain gorillas live in Rwanda, Zaire and Uganda. Rwanda is struggling to recover from the 1994 civil war that killed 500,000 people. Hundreds of thousands more were displaced, and many fled through the gorillas' habitat.
MOVING WILD ANIMALS from one locale to another sounds like an easy way to redistribute species, replace depleted stock or introduce new stock. But as South Africa, a pioneer in wildlife "reintroduction," has learned, it is a complex business.
Take their experience with the lion. The lion has been hunted into extinction in parts of South Africa, but its status as a major tourist attraction remains undiminished. As the demand for lions grows, reintroducing them into parks has become important for conservation and the economy.
Many people living around Pilanesberg are finding they have a vested interest in the health of the 19-year-old national park.
Initially hostile to the park, neighbors met with the Bop Parks Board. Talks led to the formation of the Community Development Organization and the creation of several enterprises that benefit local residents-a factory that makes uniforms for mine workers, farms that supply produce to park lodges and a haberdashery that supplies Sun City, a lavish private resort-casino-golf club at the edge of Pilanesberg.
For three weeks earlier this year, AWF President R. Michael Wright and Mark R. Stanley Price, director of AWF's African operations, visited South Africa to talk with experts involved in conservation efforts there. One item on their agenda was to meet with representatives of numerous other African countries on the status of the rhinos. What was less expected was their encounter with the rhinos themselves. From Wright's notes:
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON TALKS WITH Patrick Bergin, executive officer of the AWF Community Conservation Service Center in Tanzania and Bettie Loibooki of the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) staff, who along with Alan Kijazi of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, briefed the first lady on African conservation issues during a visit to Serengeti National Park.