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.