The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and its conservation partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda have made tremendous success in improving gorilla conservation, through protecting endangered gorillas, and helping to preserve habitat. However, the illegal trade of endangered species is a pressing issue, particularly in the DRC. All wild animals are negatively affected by illegal trade, but for the trade in infant gorillas the problem is especially acute due to their family social structure. Poachers generally will kill several adult gorillas in the group, in order to capture the infants. In addition, such infants can not survive alone and will often die quickly in captivity once separated from their family members.
Right now, DFGFI along with the ICCN (the government agency responsible for conservation in DRC), ORTPN (the government agency responsible for conservation in Rwanda) and the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP), are caring for five young Grauer's gorillas (eastern lowland) and one mountain gorilla that have been confiscated from poachers and traders. The most recent gorilla was confiscated this month. DFGFI staff assist in care giving, providing food from the forest, and behavioral assessments, while plans continue to be explored for their future. However, while DFGFI, MGVP and government agencies are leading efforts to combat the illegal trade in gorillas, the lack of sanctuaries for these confiscated individuals presents an ongoing problem for their long term future.