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Endangered Mountain Gorilla Mother Shot Dead
12 June 2007

Two-month-old gorilla orphaned following fatal attack in DR Congo

On Saturday 9 June 2007, a two-month-old Mountain gorilla was found clutching its dead mother who had been shot in the back of the head by armed attackers in the southern sector of the Virunga National Park, DR Congo. Rangers who came across the horrific scene were able to rescue baby Ndakazi and take it to Goma where it is now being cared for by the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP). Gapira Wa Mutazimiza, the deputy head warden for the area has announced that the mother’s body will be buried later today (Monday 11 June).

The female gorilla, revealed to be Rubiga, and her infant were members of the 32-strong Kabirizi family, the largest habituated group of Mountain gorillas living in the Virunga National Park. The Gorilla Organization, that supports community-based conservation aroun d the park, recently celebrated the birth of baby Ndakazi, who was named in honour of the chief monitoring ranger who died earlier this year.

Greg Cummings, director of the Gorilla Organization said, “We are devastated that this park and these endangered gorillas are yet again victims. With so few Mountain gorillas left in the wild an attack of this kind can have a very grave impact on the long-term survival prospects of the species”.

Gorilla infants are dependent on their mother’s breast milk for the first three years of their lives and do not thrive in captivity. While baby Ndakazi is reported to be taking baby formula milk, it remains in a critical condition following its ordeal.

This is the third attack to shock the Virunga National Park since the beginning of the year. In January the remains of two silverback gorillas were found in a pit latrine having been slaughtered and eaten by rebel soldiers based in the area, and just three weeks ago rebel troops attacked ranger patrol posts in the Northern sector of the park, leaving two people dead and three people injured. Following the attack the troops threatened to harm the gorillas if any retaliation was made against them.

More than 100 rangers have been killed in the line of duty during a decade of civil wars and humanitarian crises in DRC.
for further information or photographs contact:

David Hewitt, Communications Manager
The Gorilla Organization, 110 Gloucester Avenue, London, Nw1 8HX
Tel: 020 7916 4974
Mobile: 07801 971123
david@gorillas.org
www.gorillas.org