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SafeZone appeal: The race is on to save gorillas’ lives

The gorillas of Congo are in grave danger. Local people's desperate need for firewood and farmland has destroyed millions of trees.

The gorillas of Congo are in grave danger. Local people’s desperate need for firewood and farmland – and the demands of a hungry industry – have destroyed millions of trees around the gorillas’ habitat.

The loss of this lush forest has terrible consequences for the critically-endangered gorillas. The loss of forest means that several gorilla families are now closer to villages and farmland. Driven by hunger, gorillas can raid crops. This frightens farmers and triggers confrontations that often end in tragic maiming for the gorillas and their infants.

At the same time, as the trees disappear, the topsoil is exposed. When the rainy season comes, landslides wash away crops and villages. With their livelihoods gone, local people are driven into the gorillas’ habitat in search of food, bringing with them deadly snares and diseases.

The Gorilla Organization’s pioneering SafeZone project will replace two million trees to create a ‘green zone’ that separates the gorillas’ habitat from farms and villages. This means the gorillas won’t stray into crop fields and run the risk of being hurt by desperately poor farmers. Additionally, the sustainable green zone will provide local people with the trees they need for food and firewood without having to go into the protected forests.

So far, three nurseries have been established and 15,000 saplings grown. Now, the race is on to plant these before the next rainy season starts in September. To achieve this, we need to raise £60,000 before the rains come. This will pay for the saplings to be transported from the nurseries to the green zone and, just as importantly, pay to train local people plant the trees and look after them long into the future.

“We need you to keep gorilla families safe,” says Henry Cirhuza, Congo SafeZone Programme Manager.

“We are all very excited that our SafeZone project is underway, here in Kahele Territory. The first batch of 150,000 saplings is ready to plant and we are keen to start growing more.

“Our expert trainers and horticulturalists are standing by, ready to show local people how to plant the trees in the local forest and look after them. Everyone is desperate to begin this next stage before the rains come. To achieve it, we must start in the next four weeks.

“All we need is you! I hope you will find it in your heart to help the gorillas here once again. Please send your SafeZone gift as soon as you can.”