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Football brings message of gorilla conservation on World Environment Day 2007
01 July 2007

On 5 June 2007, the Gorilla Organization will launch a football tournament in the southern sector of the Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in celebration of World Environment Day. The tournament will tour the communities living on the border of the gorilla habitat for four weeks and bring the message of gorilla conservation to over 60,000 people in the area. The park which extends into Rwanda and Uganda is home to around 380 endangered Mountain gorillas and their long-term survival is very much dependent on the communities who border their home.

World Environment Day, established by the United Nations in 1972, is celebrated all over the world.  The day gives a human face to environmental issues and promotes an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards the environment. The Gorilla Organization’s football tournament, in which all local football teams will participate, will be accompanied by lively debates, radio shows and music concerts, and will promote its grass roots approach to gorilla conservation.

Tuver Wundi, the Gorilla Organization’s communication manager basin in Goma, DRC reports, “Everyone in the region is very much looking forward to the World Environment Day events. All young people in the area enjoy football, and the tournament is a great way for us to engage with the conservationists of the future.”

Mr Wundi continues, “We find that young people have a great interest in conservation issues and are eager to take part in debates and activities that highlight the threats faced by the world’s last remaining gorillas. 80 students from the region have organised a trek in the national park for this year’s World Environment Day to demonstrate their commitment to gorilla conservation.”

While the Mountain gorilla population in DRC remains fragile there is evidence to suggest that growing community support for their conservation is having an impact. On 23 May 2007, Gapira Wa Mutazimiza, the deputy head warden for the area, reported that a baby gorilla had been born in to the Kabirizi family living in the Virunga National Park. The baby has been named Ndakazi, after the chief monitoring ranger for the sector who died earlier this year, and takes the number of individuals in the family up to 32.

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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