The GRACE Center for Rescued Gorillas
The Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) center was founded in 2009 and is the first facility of its kind in east-central Africa, allowing young gorillas confiscated from poachers to live in species-typical groups and roam through 370 acres of natural habitat. The site was donated by the Tayna Center for Conservation Biology (TCCB) and is located adjacent to the Tayna Nature Reserve.
Six Grauer's gorillas that were initially cared for by the Fossey Fund in Goma were transferred to GRACE in 2010 and six more in care in Kinigi, Rwanda, joined them the following year, following a difficult journey by land and air. More infants rescued from poachers have since been rescued and sent to GRACE in subsequent years.
The gorillas live together in a group, and are able to practice survival behaviors such as tree climbing, nest building and foraging for wild foods. The gorillas' behavior is monitored, to collect data for evaluating each gorilla's progress and candidacy for possible eventual reintroduction to the wild.
The GRACE center has an impact beyond the rehabilitation of rescued gorillas. Studies have shown that gorilla rehabilitation centers in other areas have helped to discourage the illegal trade in live gorilla infants. Authorities are quicker to confiscate poaching victims if they know there is a place that will receive them. In addition, the center is involved in conservation education and public information programs.
GRACE was initiated by the Fossey Fund at the urging of the Congolese wildlife authority (ICCN) and the Tayna community, with financial support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, and technical assistance from Disney’s Animal Programs and Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA). GRACE is now the collaborative effort of these and several other organizations.