Search for missing mountain gorillas will begin in Congo24/07/2012 07:34:28 Gorilla cease fire
July 2012. Despite of the ongoing civil war in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the government authorities and M23 rebel commanders have authorized the park's rangers to search for the missing gorilla families in rebel-held territory in the Mountain Gorilla Sector of Congo's Virunga National Park. On Tuesday 24 July, a team of 45 rangers will begin a multi-day operation to find and monitor the condition of six mountain gorilla families, some which have not been seen for over 10 weeks.
Machine guns, mortars and combat helicopters
Rangers are required to provide constant protection for the critically endangered mountain gorillas but were forced to evacuate the Gorilla Sector as a result of the intense fighting between the Congolese army and the rebel group on 8 May 2012. Extensive use of heavy machine guns, mortars and combat helicopters blocked all efforts to monitor and protect gorilla families that make their home in the surrounding forests.
Virunga National Park's director Emmanuel de Merode, stated, "We are delighted and relieved that all sides in the conflict have recognized the need to protect Congo's only mountain gorillas, and that once again this country has shown a deep commitment to nature conservation despite the exceedingly difficult political challenges of the moment."
Every gorilla to be ‘audited'
Home to 200 gorillas
The park closed all tourist visits to the gorillas, chimpanzees, and volcanoes on 1 April when fighting began within the park. Tourist attractions will remain closed until the security situation is stable.