Two mountain gorillas which were rescued from poachers by Rwandan authorities were, on Tuesday, handed back to Congolese officials after three years at a care centre in Kinigi, Musanze District.
The 9-year old female gorilla named Maisha was rescued in 2004, while 6-year old male named Kaboko was rescued in 2007.
The gorillas first underwent veterinary examination before being transferred. Six other Low Land Gorillas which were also rescued are still being held at Kinigi care centre pending their transfer.
The relocation exercise of the mountain gorillas was overseen by Rwanda’s Head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB, Rica Rwigamba, and handed over by Rwanda Volcanoes National Park authorities to the officials from Institute Congolaise pour la Conservation du la Nature (ICCN), in Rumangabo.
“Relocation underscored the success of cross-border collaboration in protecting the endangered primates. Having mountain gorillas is a privilege and at the same time, our responsibility to protect them. This relocation is a reflection of an efficient and effective regional collaboration as we strive to overcome various challenges to successful conservation,” Rwigamba said.
An official from ICCN, Joel Wangamulay, commended the joint conservation efforts, attributing gorilla trafficking to previous insecurity around the Virunga National Park. The mountain gorillas will have 30-day quarantine before being introduced to the other gorilla groups.
The relocation was facilitated by the Rwanda Development Board, park authorities from DRC and Uganda, Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration and partner NGOs like Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, International Gorilla Conservation Program and Karisoke Research Centre.