By Anna Behm Masozera
An anti-poaching patrol in the Virunga Massif made a gruesome discovery last week – a young mountain gorilla was dead, caught in a poacher’s snare.
The male mountain gorilla, estimated to be approximately three years old, was determined to have been dead for a few days before it was found. A post mortem exam conducted by the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project and veterinarians with the Rwanda Development Board revealed that the mountain gorilla was dehydrated and its stomach empty, pointing to the likelihood that the gorilla struggled with the snare for several days before dying. The rope snare was set to trap a small antelope for wild meat.
“It is a heartbreaking thing to see a mountain gorilla dead after struggling due to an act by a human being,” said Eugène Rutagarama, Director of the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP); a coalition of Fauna & Flora International, the African Wildlife Foundation, and the World Wide Fund for Nature. There are only an estimated 780 mountain gorillas in the world, and the species is designated as Critically Endangered.
Habituated gorillas, accustomed to the regular presence of people for tourism or research, are monitored on a daily basis and given on-site veterinary treatment in the case of a life-threatening injury or illness. Unhabituated gorillas, on the other hand, do not receive these direct protection benefits, but are protected through law enforcement, like anti-poaching patrols within the parks, as well as incentivising conservation in communities living around the park, two important efforts supported by IGCP. More....