Monitoring the location and health of habituated mountain gorillas is something, under ideal circumstances, that happens every day. Unfortunately, the conditions in different parts of the Virunga Massif have been far from ideal for a good part of this year.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo side of the Virunga Massif, in Virunga National Park’s gorilla sector, M23 rebels have occupied large portions of the gorilla sector since May of this year. However, recently, the park was able to negotiate to get a small team of specialized rangers into the gorilla sector to check in on the habituated mountain gorilla groups.
Two gorilla groups have thus far been found, with the team in pursuit of the others. The amazing thing is that they are finding a significant number of new infants, a trend that everyone hopes to hold true for all of the habituated (and even non-habituated) mountain gorilla groups in Virunga NP.
In addition, on the Rwanda side of the Virunga Massif, Karisoke Research Center and the Rwanda Development Board have re-initiated routine monitoring of the mountain gorilla groups habituated for research within Volcanoes National Park. Monitoring of the groups was suspended for several days after an anti-poaching patrol post was attacked on December 2nd and tragically one Karisoke staff member, Esdras Nsengiyumva, was killed by gunfire from suspected FDLR rebels.
What is truly impressive, is the level of commitment in the rangers that do this important work, with the full and fresh knowledge of the risks involved. They deserve every once of our collective support.