A lowland orphaned gorilla named Ihirwe rescued from traffickers by the Rwanda Police last year will be returned to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Lowland gorillas are found in Kahuzi Biega, and Tshiabirimu National Parks in Walikale, DR Congo. They are different from mountain gorillas.
Dr Jean Felix Kinani of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) said Ihirwe’s blood samples were collected and sent to Max Planck Institute in Germany, which confirmed it as a lowland gorilla. The gorilla has been undergoing treatment at the project’s facility.
“We have been waiting for DNA test results to confirm whether Ihirwe is a mountain or lowland gorilla. We will begin preparations for Ihirwe to be transferred to the Grace Sanctuary in Goma to join the other orphans,” Dr Kinani said.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International reports continued trafficking of gorillas as three orphaned infants in the Walikale territory of the DR Congo were reportedly rescued last month.
According to a statement issued by the organisation, the first young gorilla was allegedly held captive in a Congolese man’s home for 12 weeks as he searched for an interested buyer.
It was also reported that a total of seven infant gorillas have been rescued within the last 11 months, while ICCN rangers have reported continued sale of bush meat at Mpofi market in Walikale.
“This clearly shows the urgency of the anti-poaching investment we have been advocating for especially in the Eastern DR Congo,” said Juan Carlos Bonilla, Fossey Fund, Vice President of Africa Programmes.
In the statement, there is a recommendation to set up a radio station to exclusively broadcast conservation programmes in the Walikale area to improve communication and help strengthen conservation efforts.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International works in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to protect, monitor and study endangered gorillas.
Six lowland gorillas which were rescued from traffickers last year, were handed over to the Congolese authorities by the Rwanda Development Board and Volcanoes National Park.
Rwanda, D.R. Congo and Uganda, which are jointly the home to the rare endangered gorillas are involved in cross border patrols to stop poaching and trafficking of gorillas within the Virunga massif.