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Conservation

Gorillas and Attenborough

by Colin Ricketts 04 Nov 2013
Gorillas and Attenborough

Can anybody help the orphans and potential bushmeat of the Virunga? Mountain gorillas image; Credit: © Shutterstock

It is only the gorillas that are endangered, but the way that David Attenborough puts his case may well ensure a much better future for the strife-torn areas of Central Africa and the gorillas within them. David will never be in danger of losing his place in our hearts as the ultimate animal advocate.

Poachers and war are giving way to dedicated rangers in the Virunga area, but young Gorilla gorilla beringei are still stolen to sell and adults are “needed” for bushmeat. Local people are also encroaching on the Park as they use the forest’s resources. The Congolese Conservation Authority is the ICCN. They run the Senkwekwe Orphan mountain gorilla Center in Virunga National Park because so many mothers are killed in crossfire during the skirmishes.

Victims of war in gorillas and humans, quite naturally, have the same needs and reactions, so wardens bring the young up themselves as children. Andre Bauma is one such ranger: “Gorillas have something in their soul very close to humans.” As the “father” of a pair of adopted female mountain gorillas, he reports, “to lose them would be to lose a part of ourselves.”

Instead, they have lost at least 130 rangers, who have been shot dead by rebel fighters with far superior firepower within their National Park. The urgent need is to raise some money by 11th December to raise the profile of the gorilla’s situation, help those rangers, and enable Fauna and Flora International to act. David Attenborough has given his name to the crowdfunding campaign in Flora and Fauna International.

There are 700 animals left in only 2 major National Parks. The other is in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park of Uganda. Since Attenborough’s famed meeting with the gorilla family in 1978, there have been many celebrity visits and these are necessary to promote the cause. Our close genetic relatives are almost extinct. Without such species, it could be that we lose contact completely with the true nature of the earth and life itself.


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