"If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin."
- Charles Darwin

Jul 30, 2007

Gorilla Massacre in Perspective

Deaths Are Equivalent to the Entire Population of England

The shocking news that four more critically endangered mountain gorillas were killed last week should make all primates of good conscience wince. Furthermore, one of the females was pregnant and another was nursing a five month old infant who is not expected to live.

According to the World Wildlife Foundation, there are an estimated 700 mountain gorillas alive in the wild. The loss of these six gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo represents 0.86% of the total population. This would be the equivalent of slaughtering 5,910 endangered African elephants or 60 million human beings in a single week. In human terms this is the death of every man, woman and child in England (and nearly as many as the population of Congo).

While it's unknown who is responsible for the killings one of two possibilities is the most likely: they were killed by supporters of rebel leader Gen. Laurent Nkunda who were also responsible for killing two gorillas earlier this year, or they were killed by traders who cut down trees to be sold as charcoal in Rwanda. According to the UK Telegraph:

"Virunga has been under enormous pressure from the exploitation of timber for the charcoal trade," said Mr de Merode.

"There's a very real possibility that this is an act of sabotage against the national park because it represents an opposition to the charcoal trade."

This latter cause is the result of extreme poverty in the region that will push desperate people to enter the National Reserves to earn a living. The Global Policy Forum has an excellent article illustrating the critical conditions in the region.

Pictured above are Safari, who was killed in the shooting, and her daughter Ndeze, who is thought unlikely to live. The other victims were named Neeza and Mburanumwe, and the male, Rugendo.

To help, visit the WWF website here.

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tofu lou said...

I also read about this tragedy, on Amnesty's website or something. It's terrible that people would do such a thing to an animal :(

Tiffany said...

I feel like Ndeze could survive if I was her mama. I hold my own baby just like that. It's heartbreaking.

TimTim said...

If you saw the 1988 movie "Gorillas In the Mist" starring Sigourney Weaver about the true-life story of Dian Fossey and her work to save the mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park on the border of Rwanda and the Congo - then you know these creatures - they are the same species of gorilla that Fossey died protecting in 1985. It is inconceivable to me that twenty years later and despite the hard work and dedication of a legion of people from round the world - these magnificent animals are now relentlessly slaughtered to make a political statement. What could be more arrogant and telling about the human race than the fact that we have little conscious objection to a few people destroying in one life time what the magnificent forces of evolution took millions of years to create. Regardless of your religious beliefs you have to understand that there is absolutely no possibility, whatsoever, that there exists a God that would bless or even condone these destructive forces. Take that to the collection plate, please.

Dimitri said...

Monstrous. Shame on those responsible. May they receive their due justice in time...

Please, do your part towards raising human consciousness to a higher level. Let us together spread our circle of compassion until it includes all life, beginning right now.

There is no time like the present. Do something -anything- constructive today.

Life is precious. All of it.

Bless you all.