With tens of thousands of people fleeing the city of Goma after the M23 rebels took the city this week, the Gorilla Organization has launched an urgent appeal for funds to help ensure vital conservation and community development work can continue once peace and security has returned to eastern DR Congo.
Even before the rebel troops marched into the regional capital, over a quarter of a million people had been driven from their homes, among them the Gorilla Organization's local manager Tuver Wundi. Now, up to 100,000 men, women and children have left their homes and poseesions behind as they flee the rebel-held city. Since most humanitarian organisations have evacuated their staff out of Goma and its surroundings, many are heading to refugee camps set up in neighbouring Rwanda.
So far, no gorillas have been harmed in the fighting, but the risk to them is very real; back in 2007, militia tracked and killed seven members of a mountain gorilla family for no apparent reason, and now this latest fighting means ranger patrols cannot be carried out to full capacity.
"We have to believe there is hope," says the Gorilla Organization's executive director Jillian Miller.
"We have been in this situation before. We've carried on through war, the Rwandan genocide and through natural disasters. Each time we come back stronger than before. So we know that, as soon as the fighting stops, we will have to repair buildings, to re-plant fields, to re-equip the gorilla rangers and to get community projects back in action. Your donations today will build up an emergency fund to get our efforts back on track as rapidly as possible."
Your gift will make a huge difference, helping ensure the Gorilla Organization's award-winning conservation and development projects are able to continue making a real difference where it matters.
- £15 could help keep a ranger on the frontline for a day, providing training, rations, medical care and uniforms.
- £40 could help pay for vital repairs and equipment at a damaged ranger patrol post - these buildings are vital for rangers to plan and carry out ranger patrols.
- £200 could help pay for a GPS tracking unit for rangers to track and monitor gorilla families.
- £500 could help fund repairs to a damaged vehicle or go towards replacing those stolen during the conflict.