By Jennifer Viegas
On Sunday night, a young mountain gorilla was found in an African jail, curled up on a bed alongside poachers who had attempted to smuggle her from the Democratic Republic of Congo into Rwanda, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
"When we walked into the jail, one of the poachers almost immediately sneezed right on the baby, who was asleep in a tight, tense ball on the bed," Jan Ramer of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project said in a press release
It remains unclear how the little gorilla, estimated to be less than 1 year old, found herself in this stressful predicament. Her parents could have been killed in the process, along with other gorillas, but hopefully not. An investigation is under way.
The jailed accused smugglers — a group of Rwandan and Congolese men — may be part of a larger animal-poaching network.
Caroline Behringer, a WWF spokesperson, told me that "the young female is now in the care of vets in Rwanda. The rescue highlights the challenges that we're still facing with animals being illegally traded as pets or for their parts."
She added, "Mountain gorillas are critically endangered, with only around 786 individuals believed to remain in the mountains of Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda."
The gorilla, named "Ihirwe," which means luck in Kinyarwanda, still has a while before she is hopefully good for release. More....