Gorillas in our midst: Baby apes boost Congo wildlife haven

Two baby gorillas have been born in the Virunga National Park, the world-renowned wildlife haven in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the park said yesterday. “We’re excited to announce that Virunga’s Rangers have identified two new baby gorillas at #VirungaNationalPark,” it said on Twitter. “Bazirushaka from the Lulengo family has given birth to her second child, a female. Rubiga, from the Kabirizi family, has also welcomed her seventh child.” The births are likely to have taken place in January and February in the Mikeno area of the park, where patrols and monitoring of the gorillas were suspended at the time because of rebel attacks, the park said.

The oldest national park in Africa, Virunga is home to spectacular species of wildlife. They include over one-third of the world’s mountain gorillas, an endangered species of which only about 1,000 remain. The 97-year-old haven extends across nearly 8,000 square kilometers (3,000 square miles), including border areas with Rwanda and Uganda that are troubled by armed groups.

Activities in the Mikeno sector of the park had been put on hold after a ranger was killed in November by suspected members of the M23, a former Congolese Tutsi rebel group. Dozens of soldiers and civilians have died since then in attacks blamed on the M23. Military operations are underway in the region, which last May was placed under a so-called state of siege aimed at facilitating a crackdown on rebels. Under it, senior civilian officials have been replaced by army or police officers.-AFP

Back to top button