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Volcano erupts in Virunga National Park
06 January 2010


Gorilla Organization staff in DR Congo say the mountain gorillas in the Virunga National Park are safe, after the eruption of the Nyamulagira volcano at the weekend.

Around 200 of the world's 720 endangered mountain gorillas live in the Virunga National Park. However, they live some distance away from the lava flow, and it is not thought they are in any danger.

Mount Nyamulagira is known as the most active volcano in Africa. It is situated about 16 miles from the city of Goma, which was devastated by the eruption of another volcano, Mount Nyiragongo, in 2002. The city is thought to be safe, but officials are worried that the lava has spread close to the main road between Goma and Sake.

Aerial view of Mount Nyamulagira volcano

(Aerial view of Mount Nyamulagira. Photo from the Goma Volcanology Observatory)

Whilst the mountain gorillas are a long way from Mount Nyamulagira and the lava flow, there have been concerns about a group of chimpanzees who live in the area. The Nyamulagira sector of the park is also home to many other animals.

The Gorilla Organization's Tuver Wundi, based in DR Congo, says "The gorillas are safe in their part of the park, but already a lot of forest has been destroyed and that is devastating for other animals. Everyone in Goma remembers all too well the catastrophe of the big volcano in 2002, and we are relieved that no homes are thought to be in danger this time, but it is such a terrible shame to lose part of the Virunga National Park."

Experts from the Goma Volcanology Observatory are monitoring the situation closely. It's reported that in the four days since the eruption on Sunday, an area the size of fifteen football pitches (12 hectares) has been destroyed within the national park.

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