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Appeal: Walikale’s brave rangers need help

The Walikale Gorilla Reserve in eastern DR Congo is home to an estimated 700 eastern lowland gorillas, all of them in danger.

The Walikale Gorilla Reserve in eastern DR Congo is home to an estimated 700 critically-endangered eastern lowland gorillas, all of them in grave danger from snares, rebel militia and even human disease.

These magnificent animals are exposed and vulnerable, with only the Gorilla Organization working to protect these forests and the gorillas they shelter. However, despite enjoying the official backing of the Congolese government, as well as the support of the local communities living alongside the reserve, the small team based here can only do so much.

To safeguard the threatened gorillas of this part of Africa, the Gorilla Organization is focusing as many resources as possible on the Walikale Rescue project this year. Though the Wildlife Authority of DR Congo has given the project its official backing, it is not in a position to offer financial assistance. This is why we need to raise £70,000 by 30th April to really kick-start the initiative and save gorillas’ lives.

Above all, money is needed to construct permanent outposts for the brave rangers working here to use. At present, the rangers only have flimsy, temporary shelters, meaning they have to return home once the sun sets, severely limiting the amount of ground they can cover. Solid, permanent outposts would allow them to stay overnight in the forests. Not only would they offer the rangers protection from the elements, they would also be kept safe from the rebel milita, plus scientists such as the team leader Andre Byamungu would be able to have a base from which they can properly observe different gorilla families.

Andre explains: “Right now we have a very exciting opportunity because the government has put us in charge of protecting the gorillas of Walikale. The local community has great faith in us, too: they have asked that we come and look after the gorillas that mean so much to them. At last it will be possible to give the gorillas the protection they need and deserve.

“But to do this we must raise £70,000 by the end of April. Every minute counts. It will take a year to rebuild the outposts, as there are no donkeys or vehicles that can make it through this tough terrain to get the building materials into the forest. It’s a massive undertaking but people here are willing to do it to save the gorillas that mean so much to them.

“That is why I must ask if you will please support our work and this very important project to support the 700 endangered lowland gorillas of Walikale. I know you cannot be here in person, but by sending your gift it will be as though you are beside us every step of the way.”