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Illegal mining boom puts eastern gorillas in peril

The Gorilla Organization helped journalists trek through the dense Congolese jungle to report on the plight of the eastern lowland gorilla


The Gorilla Organization Chairman Ian Redmond successfully led a team of journalists into the forests of DR Congo to highlight the plight of the eastern lowland gorilla.

Over the past 20 years, this sub-species of gorillas has been devastated by ongoing conflict, with the Congolese civil war that started almost 20 years ago still raging today. According to the most recent estimates, numbers have dropped from around 18,000 to just 3,800 today – a fall of around 80 per cent.

Conservationists working in eastern DR Congo have been fighting an almost impossible battle to keep the gorillas they protect out of harm’s way. Now, they are calling on the world to help them, and so the Gorilla Organization was delighted to help the Daily Mirror report on the situation by escorting its journalists into the heart of gorilla country.

Ian, who has been tracking gorillas in the wild for more than 40 years, was the ideal tour guide. He took the group into Kahuzi Biega National Park to visit a family of eastern lowland gorillas, bringing them within yards of an imposing silverback as well as boisterous youngsters.

Crucially, the report highlighted the threats posed to all sub-species of gorillas by the “uncontrolled mining boom” that has led to large sections of the forest being destroyed in order to access minerals such as coltan. The boom has also led to a spike in milita activity as gunmen roam the forests, threatening the lives of gorilla rangers

As Jillian Miller, Executive Director of the Gorilla Organization, explains: “This constant insecurity both within and around the National Park also deters people from visiting this beautiful part of the world, depriving the communities here of a valuable source of income through tourism. This means the vicious cycle – where desperate people enter the forest and poach or join militia or illegal mining operations in order to survive – will only continue.”

To read the report in full, visit the Mirror website