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Gorillas Remain Safe Amidst Congo Fighting

  • 11/08/08
  • Paul

We've been following the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where rebels took command of Virunga National Park's headquarters. What about the rangers and the mountain gorillas? Jamie from IGCP sent me this news:

"There are still 52 park staff in the Mikeno Sector [the sector of the park where the mountain gorillas live], and 22 rangers monitoring the gorillas.  The rangers have continued to go out on a daily basis.  Information, however, has had difficulty flowing from the area due to the recent troubles.

Our DRC staff was able to contact the rangers briefly on the 5th and the good news is they reported all the gorillas are fine.  As of now, there is no evidence they have been affected by the recent fighting.  Of course, Nkunda's rebel army claims to be monitoring (and not harassing) the gorillas as well.

ICCN [the Congolese wildlife authorities] has emergency funds, but is not able to use them at the moment.  The two items the rangers probably need most at the moment are patrol rations and medicine.  However, there is no way to get these things to them.  With Goma currently calm, our DRC staff are heading back there today to check and see if it calm enough to move back and begin program activities again.

If that happens, one of our staff will travel to the Park soon and personally check on the status of the gorillas.  But, that depends, of course, on the continuing peace and the safety conditions for traveling to the Park."

About the Author

Paul began with AWF based in Nairobi for a year, before moving to Washington DC. Paul has worked at the Madrid Aquarium and at The Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands outside San Francisco. He was born in New Zealand but grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Paul received his B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Management at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment. He is a member of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leadership initiative and is working on a conservation campaign to combat the illegal trade of Asian pangolins. Paul enjoys photography, travel, hikes in the woods, music, and nyama choma.

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