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Gorilla infant rescued from smugglers
10 August 2011

Rwandan authorities have rescued an infant mountain gorilla from poachers who claim she was taken from the Virunga National Park in neighbouring DR Congo.


The gorilla, who is believed to be around 15 months old, was rescued on Sunday night (August 7th) after three suspected poachers - two from Rwanda and one from DR Congo - were apprehended in Gisenyi, a city in the Rubavu District of Western Rwanda.


According to the Rwandan Development Board (RDB), the infant was found frightened and stressed, curled up in a ball and suffering from a cold, having been held by the three men for more than a week. On a more positive note, however, the authority confirmed in a statement: "Currently the baby's external conditions show that she is in good health."


Called to the Gisenyi police station, a team from the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) gave the infant a thorough examination before taking her to a quarantine facility in nearby Kinigi, Rwanda, where it is expected she will stay and receive round-the-clock care for at least 30 days. Since she spent a prolonged period in close contact with humans – in fact, one of the poachers was seen sneezing all over her – she will be kept in isolation to ensure she makes a full recovery from any infections she may have picked up before she joins several other young gorillas at the Senkwekwe Centre, a sanctuary for gorilla orpans, located within the boundaries Virunga National Park. Vets also gave the young gorilla the name Ihirwe, meaning luck in Kinyarwanda.


While acknowledging that criminals continue to pose a threat to ongoing efforts to protect the country's critically endangered mountain gorilla population, the head of tourism and conservation at the RDB, Rica Rwigamba, stressed that the Rwandan government is committed in its fight against poaching. 


Meanwhile, across the border, the ICCN (Congolese Wildlife Authority) is undertaking an investigation as it checks which gorilla family lost a member over recent days. 



Photo and video credit: The Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project


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