Infant Mountain Gorilla Resuced From Poachers (Photos)

Photo credit: Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, Inc.

A female mountain gorilla, less than a year old, was rescued from a group of poachers as they tried to smuggle her from the Democratic Republic of Congo into Rwanda on Sunday. Though authorities have not determined whether the men were working alone or operating as part of a larger network, they hope the ongoing investigation will uncover the details.
Photo credit: Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, Inc.

"The good news is that this infant was rescued before it was too late and is now in good hands," International Gorilla Conservation Program Director Eugène Rutagarama explained, but added that "the bad news is that people believe there is a market for baby mountain gorillas and are willing to break laws and jeopardize the fate of a critically-endangered species at the chance for profit."

Photo credit: Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, Inc.

The young gorilla, named Ihirwe, is now under the care of veterinarians at a rehabilitation facility in Kinigi, Rwanda, near Volcanoes National Park.

"She will go through a 30 day quarantine period," explained Dr. Jan Ramer of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, "and hopefully will return to DR Congo at Virunga National Park's Senkwekwe Center where she can join orphan gorillas Maisha, Kaboko, Ndeze and Ndakasi. We are cautiously optimistic for this little one—she is tense, but accepting of people, and is eating. All good signs for her eventual recovery."

Photo credit: Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, Inc.

Unfortunately, authorities are unsure of which family group Ihirwe was taken from—or whether other gorillas were killed or captured in the raid.

Poaching, for sale and bush meat, remains a serious threat to the critically endangered mountain gorilla.

Read more about mountain gorillas:
Rare Mountain Gorilla Twins Born in Rwanda
Mountain Gorilla Population Increases 25% in Central African National Parks
In Rwanda, Saving Mountain Gorillas by Naming Them, on World Environment Day

Tags: Animals | Conservation | Endangered Species


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