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Mount Tshiaberimu in danger
20 September 2010

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The security situation at Mount Tshiaberimu, the Gorilla Organization’s flagship project, is deteriorating and concerns have been raised for the safety of the gorillas and the Gorilla Organization staff working there. The area has seen regular skirmishes between the Congolese army and rebel fighters for a number of years now but over the past few months the violence has been escalating.

In early August, Ranger Achille was brutally murdered by rebels on his way to his patrol post in the north of the Virunga National Park, just 4km from Mount Tshiaberimu. Achille was a brave and dedicated ranger, who had worked with the gorillas at Mount Tshiaberimu for a number of years before transferring to nearby Ishango Station. The Gorilla Organization team was deeply saddened by this horrible crime, and its thoughts are with his family at such a difficult time. 

This tragic and senseless death serves as a reminder of the risks rangers take in order to protect the gorillas – over 190 rangers have been killed in the Virunga National Park in the past 15 years.

The patrol posts around Mount Tshiaberimu have been subject to repeated attacks in recent weeks, and the Gorilla Organization’s staff are living in fear for their lives. According to the latest report from Jean-Claude Kyungu, the Gorilla Organization’s project manager at Mount Tshiaberimu, there are three rebel strongholds in the area around the gorilla habitat, and the fighters have been threatening local people. Reports have also been received that indicate that rebels recently killed an elephant and a hippopotamus for their meat.

Thankfully the gorillas have not been directly affected by these terrible actions, but they remain in grave danger.

The gorillas at Mount Tshiaberimu have suffered a great deal over the last few years – since 2007 the population has plummeted from 21 to 16 with the tragic deaths of adult gorillas from disease and accidents. The most recent of these was the magnificent silverback Kanindo, who died last July after falling into a ravine.

The Gorilla Organization is doing everything it can to try to protect the gorillas from harm. Rangers are risking their lives entering the forests to monitor the gorillas as often as they dare, and 14 more rangers have been drafted in from Rwindi in another sector of the park to lend extra support and protection.

Please make a donation to support the Mount Tshiaberimu team through this difficult period and help the Gorilla Organization to keep the precious gorillas as safe as possible.

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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