29 November 2010

Rwanda: Nation Returns Gorillas to DR Congo After Six Years

Kigali — Two orphaned gorillas that have been in Rwanda for the last six years have been returned to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Relocating the orphans, Maisha and Kaboko from Rwanda was supervised by Rwanda's Head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB, Rica Rwigamba . Institute Congolaise pour la Conservation du la Nature (ICCN) received these gorillas on behalf of DRC.

According to Rwigamba, the relocation underscores the success of cross-border collaboration in protecting the endangered primates. The two gorillas are part of eight, authorities in Rwanda have confiscated over time from smugglers and poachers. Rwanda promises to hand over the remaining six gorillas to DRC soon.

"The remaining six will be handed over next year," Annette Tamara Mbabazi, RDB Public Relations and Communication Officer told East African Business Week.

"Some of the gorillas were rescued trapped by snares laid by poachers," Mbabazi explained, Kaboko lost one limb in the snare. Kaboko means missing an arm. The gorilla was confiscated on March 18, 2007 and transferred to Rumangabo -Senkwekwe site. "Despite the fact that poaching has drastically, reduced snares are occasionally found by rangers and trackers," says the statement.

The relocation comes after an initial agreement at the time when the gorillas were rescued stating that they would be returned back to their original habitat once DRC had an appropriate sanctuary. According to RDB, "The relocation is not only a timely initiative but also a reflection of an efficient and effective regional collaboration as we strive to overcome various challenges to successful conservation.

This will in the long run see the mountain gorillas scrapped off the endangered species list. It will also help profile Rwanda that is known for its success in gorilla conservation.

The relocation was facilitated by 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, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund/Karisoke Research Center.

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