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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Death in the mist - the wanton slaughter of gorillas in the Congo...

Four mountain gorillas were reportedly killed at Congo's Virunga National Park, an international conservationist group announced on Thursday.

All four gorillas — three females and one male silverback — were shot but it was unclear who killed them or why, said the International Gorilla Conservation Program, a partnership of conservation groups that includes the World Wildlife Fund.

Local residents reported hearing gunshots Sunday night and alerted park rangers, who later discovered the dead gorillas the following morning.

It is estimated that just over 700 mountain gorillas remain in the wild today. None exist in captivity.

"For such a small population, the unnecessary and indiscriminate killing of four mountain gorillas is a huge loss," the IGCP said in a statement.

This is just another wanton act of senseless cruelty and killing of protected animals. Eventually these wonderful creatures who depend on the support and assistance of human beings will be just another statistic of animals having died out.

Since I posted that information I have received updated information on the matter of the wanton slaughter of these wonderful animals.

Later reports have confirmed that the death toll of these gorillas is actually eight. They were part of a troop of twelve known to conservationists as the "Rugendo Family" living in an extremely mountainous area which straddles Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is extremely popular with tourists.

The Virunga mountains are closely associated with Dian Fossy, the famous American zoologist whose book about gorillas in the area, "Gorillas in the Mist" became acclaimed with the Hollywood film of the same name, starring Sigourney Weaver as Dian Fossey.

After many years of civil war the eastern region of the Congo has allegedly become the domain of former rebel leaders, corrupt local officials and various militia groups - a typical African scenario in recent decades. The Congolese government has been severely criticised for its reticence and failure to take action to curb poachers, and its failure to protect its rare wildlife, such as the great apes. Conservation experts claim the wanton slaughter of the gorillas was not the work of poachers who would have taken and paraded the bodies of gorillas as trophies.

The gorillas have become the pawns in a feud between individuals.The scenario has darkened somewhat with the suggestion that the killing of these harmless creatures was an ominous warning to local consevationists who seek to prevent further acts of commercial destruction of the rainforests (shades of the Amazon in South America) the natural habitat of the gorillas.

So death comes to the Gorillas in the mist, with the wanton slaughter of the great apes in the rainforests of the Congo. What would another book written reveal about the gorillas in another decade or so - a history of the great apes who used to live in the Virunga National Park?

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