Four gorilla families found in monitoring operation in DR Congo
by LuAnne (From Gorilla.CD)
We have wonderful news this week from our rebel-held gorilla sector of the park. The rangers were finally able to begin a gorilla monitoring operation to search for our missing gorilla families, and they have found four out of seven, plus discovered a new baby in the Munyaga family.
The gorilla monitoring operation was originally scheduled to begin last week following authorization by government authorities and M23 rebel commanders, but we were forced to postpone it when the conflict escalated on 24 July, and intense combat in and around the park headquarters prevented the rangers from beginning the planned search.
The mission started from our Bukima Patrol Post where most tourist gorilla treks began until we were forced to close all attractions in April. Twenty rangers and 15 local trackers from the surrounding communities split up into eight groups the first day, heading in different directions, looking for any sign of the gorillas such as overnight nests, excrement, or the sounds of their activity.
They were able to find the Humba, Rugendo, and Munyaga families, and half of the Kabirizi family who appear to have split into two groups. All seem healthy, but a more detailed assessment and individual counting will take place in the coming week if security allows.
Innocent, our warden of the southern sector who knows these gorillas better than anyone, described the reaction of the gorillas to seeing our rangers. Members of the Kabirizi family circled them, he said, and most wanted to touch and smell them. One small juvenile shyly reached out its hand to touch Innocent’s boots, and another came up from behind to touch his back when he wasn’t looking.
We’ll keep you posted on our search for the remaining three families, plus the full health and identification process that we hope to start soon.
Here are a few photos from Innocent’s trek, and the Kabirizi family they discovered. This half of the Kabirizi family is being led by silverback Bageni who we believe is Kabirizi’s son. Prior to this war, in February and March, the Kabirizi family was showing signs of splitting into two. It appears to be official.
Read the full article and check out photos on http://gorillacd.org/2012/08/03/four-gorilla-families-found-on-first-monitoring-operation-in-two-months/