Congo rebels kill Silverback Mountain Gorilla

With only around 700 mountain gorillas left in the whole world now, and more than half of them in Virunga National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, it is upsetting to hear that, “Congolese rebels have shot and butchered,” one of these individuals. This news comes from Reuters‘ “Congo rebels kill rare ape, raising survival fears.”

Ian Redmond, chief consultant for the United Nations Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP) takes the subjectivity of this tragedy out of context, and outlines how,

“In a population this small, every individual counts — and the loss of a trusting young silverback is tragic on many levels.”

Robert Muir, of the Frankfurt Zoological Society adds how the conflict between humans is affecting to non-humans,

“The future survival of this species is now under threat, and I fear that this recent attack on the gorillas could signal a wave of such killings if immediate action is not taken to remove Nkunda’s and his troops from their habitat.”

The gorilla was actually killed not too far off from a post that was abandoned by wildlife protectors because they were driven off by violence. It is really trivial to think these rebels killed this gorilla for no apparent reason, other than to show their ignorance in dominance over these species that are being protected by a regime they do not support.

9 thoughts on “Congo rebels kill Silverback Mountain Gorilla

  1. Paulin, thanks so very much with sharing your blog. I have bookmarked the RSS feed in my news reader and will be a regular reader for sure. I have also added your blog’s link to the right here.

    Also, an open note to any primatology bloggers out there, email me if you would like to me link up your blog. I wanna start to network with y’all out there.



  2. Please note that a second Silverback Mountain Gorilla has been confirmed killed….

    This sad news comes from the blog of Paulin Ngobobo/Senor Warden, Virunga South Sector.

    The entire blog entry and photos are over at this link.

    The following is an excerpt from Paulin’s blog dated 1/16/07:

    “We were able to confirm that a second gorilla has been killed. There is a very real possibility that others were also shot in the last few days.

    …we needed to identify the individual, and to bring back irrefutable proof that gorillas were being killed.

    We’ve learned a lot: The gorilla had infact 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).

    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.”

  3. Hearing this makes me very upset. Especially since I have just returned from that very same area in Virunga National Park. It is such a beautiful place and the gorillas there are so special. They need as much protection as possible. I was lucky to see some of these great apes in nature, under the protection of guards. However the day before we got robbed at gunpoint when they stopped our vehicles on the way to one of the entry points to the park. After hearing this story I could just imagine what could have happened to our group. Hopefully the poaching of these animals will be stopped before the gorillas are wiped out forever.

  4. Patty,

    Thanks for the update and clarification that the killers didn’t just kill for sport and perhaps for food. It still makes it trivial, in my eyes and mind. I understand there are food shortages all over the world, but there’s no sensible reason to kill a rare ape.


  5. Kambiz,

    Thanks for your comment. And I wholeheartedly agree with you.

    In the past couple of days, additional international articles have reported both the killing AND eating of the gorillas have been traced back to the rebel soldiers; under the direction of Laurent Nkunda.

    With all the worldwide bad press, the rebels have issued a press release. Virunga Park Warden Paulin Ngobobo’s blog has the PDF. Unfortunately, it is in French!

    Can any fellow bloggers translate this to English?

    Also, the timing of the killing of the gorillas took place when Laurent Nkunda was to sign a peace agreement.

    The following is from 1/18/07 VOA News:

    “Conservationists in Eastern Congo have accused rebel forces of killing and eating highly endangered mountain gorillas. The report of the bizarre behavior emerged as a renegade rebel leader in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Laurent Nkunda, prepared to sign a peace deal that could finally bring stability to the volatile region.”

    “What we suspect is that it is a combination of killing the gorilla for meat and simply vandalism,” he said. “These rebel soldiers use terror against the civilian population as a weapon of war and the gorillas were in the crosshairs.”


  6. I was extremely moved by the National Geographic story on this sad/mad episode.
    About to close the magazine with the anguish of immersing in such an incomprehensible act, I noted the gold medallion adorning Mr. Ngobobo’s beret.

    Offer a real gold/silver/copper/bronze copy of this medallion with the proceeds going to protecting these ‘cousins’ of ours.

    Question; is there a t-shirt I can buy to make others aware of the plight of the gorillas?

    What is the most effective charity working on this?

    Best Wishes to all

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