Saturday, March 22, 2008

Gorillas Killed By Ranger Hired To Protect Them

The Virunga National Park, is home to a bit more than half of the world's last 700 mountain gorillas. Here, a senior park official has been arrested due to claims that he organized the killing of ten rare mountain gorillas in 2007.

Democratic Republic of Congo- Honore Mashagiro has been charged by the Congolese Nature Conservation Institute (ICCN), which he was a member of, for ordering and allowing the killing of ten of these rare gorillas in 2007.

The Virunga National Park is one of the Unesco world heritage sites.

Each World Heritage Site is the property of the country on whose territory the
site is located, but it is considered in the interest of the international
community to preserve each site for future generations of humanity. The
protection and conservation of these sites are a concern of all the World
Heritage countries.
Unfortunately, the park is located in an area where rebels have set up base making it a volatile region.

Reports say that there are six other foresters that may be questioned, as to their own roles in trapping and slaughtering the animals on the alleged orders of Mr Mashagiro. Conservationists called the killings "executions". The gorillas' bodies were left where they fell. They feel that if it had been poachers killing the gorillas, they would have taken the carcasses and sold them as food or trophies. There is some thought that the killing of the gorillas is tied to mining and trafficking of a coal-like mineral called makala. The gorillas may have been killed to create a diversion. Wildlife Direct, a conservation group, feels that the arrest is a good sign for wildlife's protection in DR Congo.

"The national parks have suffered during this period of instability which DR
Congo has gone through,"
said Congo programme manager Amir Bazarbacha.
"After more than a decade of civil war and conflict, ICCN has been considerably
incapacitated."

ICCN feels that it has gained control of its management and is making every effort to rid itself of anyone that would harm the organization by allowing bushmeat trading or other illegal activities.

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