Another infant gorilla has been confiscated from poachers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the fourth this year. On October 8, Jackson Mumbere Mwenge, logistics manager for the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) center in eastern Congo, accompanied Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) veterinarian Dr. Eddie Kambale and Escobar Binyinyi of GRACE across the eastern Congo on one more bittersweet trip to check on the condition and care of the latest victim of illegal gorilla trafficking to be rescued and turned over to compassionate medical care and rehabilitation.
They found a male Grauer’s gorilla infant, about 1½ years old, who had reportedly been kept in a sack for a month and fed bananas and potatoes before being confiscated. Dr. Kambale and MGVP veterinarian Dr. Jan Ramer, who was already with the infant, conducted a preliminary exam, which found the little gorilla stressed but in good health, with no visible wounds.
“After the exam I spent some time alone with him, and when things were quiet he relaxed and even began to eat celery and is taking juice,” said one veterinarian. Mwenge said the infant was not disturbed when he was transferred into the care of two experienced staff who had previously taken care of Kyasa and Lubutu, two other Grauer’s infants rescued earlier this year. The two caregivers, Faustin Kighoma and Kakule Kayivumba, came from Goma to the ICCN’s Senkwekwe Center in Rumungabo where the new infant is in quarantine, so that the center’s caregivers can continue to work with four mountain gorilla orphans there.
The infant was confiscated by the Congolese park authority (ICCN) in the village of Kanyabayonga in the Walikali area. His poachers have been arrested and turned over to the prosecutor’s office in Goma. After quarantine, the infant will be transferred to GRACE, a state-of-the-art facility in a forested area where several Grauer’s gorillas are learning social and survival skills in preparation for eventual release to the neighboring community-based nature reserve.
Compiled by Jackie