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Gorilla population remains resilient at Mount Tshiaberimu
01 June 2007

All 21 gorillas accounted for since Mai Mai attack last week

It has today been reported that all members of the tiny population of endangered gorillas at Mount Tshiaberimu, a remote part of the Virunga National Park, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), have been accounted for since Mai Mai rebels threatened their lives last week. The rebel troops made an attack on the Mount Tshiaberimu ranger patrol posts in the early hours of 20 May 2007, 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. While the political situation in the area remains unstable, additional rangers from Ishango and Mutsora, to the north of the mountain, have been deployed to Mount Tsiaberimu, and patrols have confirmed the safety of all 21 gorillas.

An emergency appeal to support the gorilla rangers in the region was launched by the Gorilla Organization to help coordinate emergency action and support the individuals who were affected by the devastating attack. The UN peacekeeping mission in DRC, MONUC, has provided invaluable support to the organisation and taken great steps to keep the Mount Tshiaberimu staff and rangers safe.

While peace talks are taking place between Norbert Mushenzi, the director of the northern sector of Virunga for ICCN (the Congolese Wildlife Authority) the Mai Mai, the Congolese army, MONUC and the Gorilla Organization, trouble continues in other areas of the Virunga National Park. At 1:30am yesterday morning (31 May 2007), Mai Mai attacked Lulimbi Station in eastern sector of the park. Initial reports suggest that no-one has been killed, but one ranger appears to have been captured and all equipment and supplies have been looted.

Greg Cummings, director of the Gorilla Organization said, “The deadly attack at Mount Tshiaberimu came as a great shock to everyone involved in protecting these special gorillas. We remain strong and are doing all we can to keep the staff, rangers and their families safe.”

In October last year, the Gorilla Organization celebrated 10 years of community conservation work at Mount Tshiaberimu. The communities living on the edge of the gorilla habitat at Mount Tshiaberimu welcomed the celebrations and expressed extreme gratitude for the pig breeding and seed distribution projects that have significantly improved their standards of living.

For more information on the rebel attack at Mount Tshiaberimu visit http://www.gorillas.org/Gorilla_sub_species_faces_extinction

To make a donation to our Save Mount T Appeal, please click here

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