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Gorillas in the Congo
01 January 2005

With more than three million people reported to have died since the start of the Congolese war in 1996, the gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have at times been left to their own devices. Despite the best attempts of the conservators and rangers of the hopelessly underfunded wildlife authority, there were times when patrols and gorilla monitoring were impossible. With the advent of official – if not actual – peace, after a peace accord was implemented in 2003, the wildlife authority has been reorganised, and the monitoring teams are finally receiving support.

So what is the state of Congo’s gorillas today? The plight of the eastern lowland gorilla, which is found at Kahuzi-Biega National Park and other areas of eastern DRC, has been widely reported and is undoubtedly the most critical. Scientists from New York’s Wildlife Conservation Society are currently working to determine the full extent of the carnage, but estimates say as much as 60% of the population has been lost.

Fortunately, the mountain gorillas have fared much better and current numbers are encouraging. The mountain gorillas are only found in the relatively small southern sector of the Virunga National Park, adjoining Rwanda and Uganda.

They are currently tracked each day despite continuing insecurity.

There are 94 habituated gorillas in the sector, living in seven families, with three lone gorillas.

In general, they are doing well, and, since April, three births have been recorded: baby Sebagabo, on April 16, by the female Kagofera of Kwitonda family; baby Kwibesha, on June 23, by Janja of Kabirizi family; and baby Ntibahanana, on July 21, by Murara of Kabirizi family.

A new family of 15 animals has also been found recently at the limit of the park, near the Gatovu patrol post, on the north side of Mount Mikeno.

Speaking from the DFGF Resource Centre in Goma, at the edge of the park, Project Manager Henry Cirhuza said he was quietly confident for the future, but only if there is peace in the region.
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