Two baby orphan Grauer’s gorillas confiscated in DRC24/09/2012 12:31:51 Baby Gorilla Trafficking Escalates in Civil War-Affected Eastern Congo
September 2012. The Congolese Wildlife Authorities (ICCN) are increasingly concerned about the survival of Grauer's gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following the rescue of two poached infant gorillas in separate incidents in September. Civil war and illegal resource extraction by armed militias in the areas where Grauer's gorillas live has made it extremely difficult for ICCN and other conservation groups to monitor and protect this endangered species.
Emmanuel de Merode, the Director for Virunga National Park said, "Civil War represents a breakdown in the rule of law, and this appears to have provoked a surge in the illegal trade in endangered species across Congo's eastern forests. Baby gorilla trafficking is terribly damaging for endangered gorilla populations because many members of the gorilla's family will probably have been killed to obtain the infant."
In the last four years, 10 Grauer's gorilla orphans were confiscated from poachers, and authorities investigated numerous other reports of illegally-held gorillas. Closely related to the more famous mountain gorillas, Grauer's gorillas, also known as eastern lowland gorillas, can only be found in eastern DRC in Kahuzi-Biega, Virunga, and Mikeo National Parks, plus isolated forest reserves. The population size of the species is unknown but most experts believe there may be fewer than 4,000 remaining, down from an estimated 17,000 in 1995.
The two most recent rescued gorillas are being cared for at Virunga National Park's Senkwekwe Orphan Gorilla Sanctuary at the park headquarters of Rumangabo, north of the city of Goma. Despite recent fighting between the M23 rebels and the Congo army around Virunga National Park, the headquarters has remained a safe haven.
9 month old female
4 month old female