July 26, 2011
Partners, Countries Collaborate to Move Rescued Gorillas
This weekend we saw an amazing international collaboration among countries, nonprofit organizations, communities and other entities, all coming together to help move six rescued Grauer's gorillas from temporary facilities in Rwanda to the new GRACE gorilla rescue center in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A long time in the planning, the move involved transporting the gorillas (who are victims of poaching) by road from Kinigi, Rwanda, to Goma, DR Congo. From there, they were transported one by one in a small helicopter to GRACE, where they will meet other rescued gorillas already there and begin preparation for eventual re-release to the wild. These gorillas originated from Congo, and so are finally back in their ancestral home.
The authorities of both Rwanda and DRC joined the Fossey Fund, the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Disney animal experts, and Tropic Air Kenya to make this complicated but critical move happen. Now the gorillas can start their new lives in the right place, where they will be prepared for eventual return to the wild. This is not just a happy ending – it's a very happy beginning.
The Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) center is the first facility of its kind in east central Africa, with room for up to 30 young gorillas to live in species-typical groups and roam through 350 acres of natural habitat, in the hope of eventually reintroducing them to the wild. The site was donated by the Tayna Center for Conservation Biology (TCCB) and is located adjacent to the Tayna Nature Reserve, near the village of Kasugho, DRC.
GRACE was initiated by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund at the urging of the Congolese national park service (ICCN), with funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; design and construction assistance and funding from Disney's Animal Programs and from the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA). The Fossey Fund and the Walt Disney Company are the first of several partners, including private foundations and individuals that will continue long-term funding and operation of the center.
Thank you everyone!