Reference: Paulin Ngobobo, Congo's Virunga National Park
Blog: <http://primatology.org/tag/blog/> (Per Google)
"The survival of these last remaining mountain gorillas should be one of
humanity's greatest priorities. Their future lies with a small number of
very brave rangers risking their lives with very little support from the
outside world." Richard Leakey
nter Offbeat Travel Education Specials Autos I-Reports
Rebels kill, eat endangered
POSTED: 12:27 p.m. EST, January 17, 2007
Two silverbacks slaughtered; only 700 mountain gorillas remain in the world
Conservation group blames rebels loyal to a local warlord, Laurent Nkunda
"Karema" trusted humans enough to let them come within touching distance
"Remaining gorillas are extremely vulnerable -- the rebels are after the
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) -- Rebels in eastern Congo have killed and eaten two
silverback mountain gorillas, conservationists said Wednesday, sparking
fears more of the endangered animals may have been slaughtered in the
Mountain gorilla Mugeni, 15, cradles her 5-month-old son, BonAane, in a
nature park in Congo. Conservationists fear more gorillas will be
slaughtered for meat.
Only about 700 mountain gorillas remain in the world, 380 of them spread
across a range of volcanic mountains straddling the borders of Congo, Rwanda
and Uganda in Central Africa.
One dismembered gorilla corpse was found Tuesday in a pit latrine in Congo's
Virunga National Park, a few hundred meters (yards) from a park patrol post
at Bikenge that was abandoned because of rebel attacks, according to the
London-based Africa Conservation Fund.
Another silverback was killed in the same area January 5, said the group,
which based its report on conservationists in the field.
Warlord's men blamed for slaughtering the two gorillas
The conservation group blamed rebels loyal to a local warlord, Laurent
Nkunda, for the latest killing, and a local warden said rebels had also
killed the other gorilla for its meat. Nkunda is a renegade army soldier who
commands thousands of fighters in the vast country's east who have in recent
years assaulted major cities and clashed sporadically with government
Paulin Ngobobo, a senior warden at the park, described on his blog finding
the animal's remains.
"We've learned a lot: The gorilla had in fact been eaten for meat. His name
was Karema, another solitary silverback that had been born into a habituated
group -- meaning that he had grown to trust humans enough to let them come
to within touching distance," Ngobobo wrote.
"Above all, we learned that the remaining gorillas are extremely vulnerable
-- the rebels are after the meat, and it's not difficult for them to find
and kill the few gorillas that remain," he said.
Ngobobo wrote on his blog that the first gorilla reported killed earlier
this month had been shot by rebels and also eaten.
"A local farmer was ordered to help the rebels collect the meat of the
gorilla," Ngobobo said. "He told them that the meat was dangerous to eat,
and immediately informed us of the incident."
22,000 hippos in Congo in 1998; 900 today
Robert Muir of the Frankfurt Zoological Society, who accompanied Ngobobo,
said: "We need to impress on Nkunda and his men that it is inexcusable to
destroy national and world heritage of such critical importance ... now that
we know that the slaughtered gorilla was eaten, the gorillas habituated for
tourism are at extreme risk -- and we are worried that more have been killed
The last remaining hippo populations in Congo are in Virunga and are also on
the verge of being wiped out. Conservationists have blamed rebels and
militias for slaughtering them, and say more than 400 were killed last year,
mostly for food. Only 900 hippos are left, a huge drop from the 22,000
reported there in 1998.
Park rangers put lives at risk
Virunga Park has been ravaged by poachers and deforestation for more than a
decade. The 1994 Rwandan genocide saw millions of refugees spill across the
border into Congo, marking the beginning of an era of unrest, lawlessness
and clashes between militias and myriad rebel groups.
Mineral-rich Congo, which held its first democratic elections in more than
four decades last year, is struggling to recover from a broader 1998-2002
war that drew in the armies of more than half a dozen African nations.
The job of protecting the country's parks falls on local rangers, and the
risks are high. In Virunga alone, some 97 rangers have died on duty since
1996, Africa Conservation Fund said.
On his blog, Ngobobo also describes being shot at and flogged by military
members, whom he and other rangers were trying to convince to stop cutting
down the forest.
Richard Leakey, a conservationist credited with helping end the slaughter of
elephants in Kenya during the 1980s, said: "The survival of these last
remaining mountain gorillas should be one of humanity's greatest priorities.
Their future lies with a small number of very brave rangers risking their
lives with very little support from the outside world."
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Africa Conservation Fund
African Office :
Terry Harnwell (ms)
P.O. Box 105209,
Msasani, Dar Es Salaam
Tel. +255 754 653881
UK Office : Arend de Haas
(Director - Conservation)
African Conservation Foundation
P.O. Box 52068,
London, SW2 9DA
South African Representative :
Tel / Fax : +27 11 616-7521
Mobile: +27 83 651 7087
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