Sad news from Central Africa, for its wildlife and people. Civil strife has broken out again in Congo, even though the civil war has formally ended and mostly free and fair elections were held earlier this year. Rebels loyal not to the central government, but to a warlord, have taken over large areas of the Virunga National Park, home to perhaps 700 of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas.
Park guard stations were looted by rebel soldiers, rifles taken and rangers, over 100 of whom have been killed in past fighting, forced to flee. That means the gorillas currently have no formal protection. Danger is close at hand: this year, nine gorillas have been killed by rebel soldiers or kingpins of a booming charcoal trade that’s eating up the gorilla’s remaining habitat (in some cases the assailants may be one and the same). A good story about this, with wrenching photos, appeared in Newsweek. Nearly 200,000 people have fled the region this year, too.
Read more about the situation here. Also read daily on-the-ground blogs from the Virunga park rangers. They’re working hard to get information about the gorillas’ situation and are as worried as many of us around the world are about their fate.