New Gorilla en Route to Goma

February 2010

New Gorilla En Route To Goma

The illegal trade in infant gorillas continues to threaten the future of the species. This unfortunate situation also continues to create demand for the specialized care offered by the Fossey Fund and its partner, the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP), to those victims lucky enough to be confiscated by the authorities and turned over to our rehabilitation program. We currently care for 11 young gorillas in Kinigi, Rwanda and Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Today, one more young gorilla has reached safety, thanks to the combined efforts of the Fossey Fund, MGVP, UGADEC (the network of community-based nature reserves we support in the Congo) and the Congolese park and wildlife authorities (ICCN). Taken from poachers in the DRC’s Walikale region, the new arrival is believed to be in good health, according to an MGVP veterinarian. Dr. Jan Ramer of MGVP and Fossey Fund Gorilla Rehabilitation Program Director Sandy Jones are en route to Goma to make a thorough assessment of the youngster’s condition and make all the care arrangements.

In Goma, the gorilla will first spend some time in a small quarantine area on the grounds of the Fossey Fund/UGADEC compound, with an experienced caregiver, before moving to the main facility that currently houses three Grauer’s gorillas. Jones will arrange for two more staff from the Kasugho area to come to Goma for training as caregivers, so they can later work at the new Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE) that will open in Kasugho this spring on land donated by the Tayna Center for Conservation Biology, an UGADEC affiliate.

All the Grauer’s gorillas in our care in Rwanda and Goma will move to GRACE, where they will be in a more natural environment and can learn to live in the kind of group that allows wild gorillas to survive and reproduce in the forest, their ultimate destination.

UPDATE 2/29/10: Today we learned that the newly confiscated gorilla is a female, approximately 1 year old. She is reported to be a little underweight (8kg) but in relatively good shape, considering her recent ordeal. “She is very young, and her bond with her caregiver will be critical to her survival,” says Jones.