Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Friday, November 28, 2008

Search Begins for Mountain Gorillas

Now that the rangers have been allowed back into Virunga, they are going to conduct a census to determine what's happened to the mountain gorillas living there. They have been out of contact since September 2007.

Mr {Emmanuel} de Merode and the 650 Virunga rangers have been forced to rely on second-hand reports from amateurs who paid their way into Mikeno where General Nkunda has been using some former rangers who defected to the CNDP.

Spirits are now high at Rumangabo. Within the last few days the Belgian conservationist led a posse of rangers back to their former patrol post at Bukima, inside the Mikeno sector of the park. Outside, Mr Mwanake is talking to Innocent Nburanumwe, another veteran ranger. They remain fretful over the situation and aware that the crisis could take another turn for the worst. "When there is a war there is no certainty, no security. We are not sure when we go to sleep if we will wake up in the morning."

Another nagging worry remains: the gorillas simply won't be there any more. Mr De Merode is refusing to think that way. Over the next month he and his staff will conduct a census of the mountain gorillas, hoping to find the population of roughly 200 unaffected by the tempest that has raged around them in the past 18 months. He says: "We've not had reports of any gorilla killings. It's incredibly exciting and any day now we're expecting good news."

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