This is Emmanuel de Merode. We just received some quite disturbing news from Norbert Mushenzi, a senior warden in Virunga, that two infant lowland gorillas were found by a MONUC patrol near Kanyabayonga, just outside the park, near the southern shores of Lake Edward. The infants were transferred to the park station at Mutsora this morning, where they are being looked after by Godefroid Wambale, who is the officer in charge. The younger one, who weighs about 10 kgs apparently, is in fairly good condition, but very young and vulnerable. The older one, about 20kgs, has been quite badly wounded by a machete to the shoulder and to the arm. We will be trying to get Dr. Jacques of MGVP up to Mutsora to stabilize their condition.
These gorillas probably come from the area to the west of the park, where to lowland forest starts, possibly from the Tayna Reserve. Eastern lowland gorillas are very similar to Mountain Gorillas, but live at lower altitudes. They are more abundant than the mountain gorillas, but have been badly affected by the war, and they have probably been decimated over the past 15 years. We don’t know that much about them because they live in very remote and insecure parts of Congo.
Unfortunately, there were no arrests when the MONUC patrol seized the infants from the poachers. The rangers are following up at the moment to see if they can secure the arrests and press charges.
Godefroid will try to update you on his blog over the next few days.