Rare mountain gorilla found dead in poacher’s snare



Posted on 12 February 2012  | 
An anti-poaching patrol in the Virunga Massif has discovered the carcass of a young mountain gorilla caught in a poacher’s snare, according to International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP). The animal was one of only about 780 critically endangered mountain gorillas left in existence.

The male gorilla, estimated to be approximately three years old, was determined to have been dead for a few days before it was found on February 1. A post mortem exam revealed that the mountain gorilla was dehydrated and its stomach empty, pointing to the likelihood that the gorilla struggled with the snare for several days before dying. The rope snare was set to trap a small antelope for wild meat.

“It is a heart-breaking thing to see a mountain gorilla dead after struggling due to an act by a human being,” said IGCP Director Eugène Rutagarama.  “This incident does, however, stimulate us to take immediate action to strengthen law enforcement in this area and to collectively strengthen our work to encourage people and communities in the Virunga landscape to reject and condemn poaching.”

According to authorities, one suspect has been arrested and three more are being pursued in collaboration with law enforcement authorities. In the last few months, an unusually high number of snares have been found in the area.

“Although the more numerous western gorilla species are dying daily at the hands of humans in Central Africa, the handful of remaining mountain gorillas will simply be unable to endure further significant losses from poachers and their indiscriminate snares,” said David Greer, WWF’s African ape expert. “We strongly urge the Rwandan and DRC governments to take swift, appropriate action to ensure that those individuals responsible are held accountable, creating the deterrent necessary to discourage future illegal activities within the park boundaries.’

Habituated gorillas, accustomed to the regular presence of people for tourism or research, are monitored on a daily basis and given on-site veterinary treatment in the case of a life-threatening injury or illness. This gorilla, however was part of an unhabituated group that does not receive these direct protection benefits. Unhabituated gorillas are protected through law enforcement, like anti-poaching patrols within the parks, as well as incentivizing conservation in communities living around the park, two important efforts supported by IGCP.

The Virunga Massif is a transboundary protected area incorporating parts of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Mountain gorillas move between the three countries making collaboration between the three parks is crucial for the long-term survival of the species.

IGCP is a coalition of WWF, African Wildlife Foundation, Fauna & Flora International.
 
A three year old mountain gorilla died after being caught in a poacher's snare.
© Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project Enlarge
Mountain gorilla baby, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mountain gorilla baby, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo.
© naturepl.com/Bruce Davidson / WWF Enlarge

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