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Friday, November 11, 2011

Gorillas are critically endangered... Virunga Rangers are among those who are trying to rescue them.

Christian carries the baby down to the Senkwekwe Center to wait for the vets and where the baby will live for the next month.
A small team of Virunga rangers played undercover cops this week when they posed as buyers for a poached baby gorilla. It all started two weeks ago when Shamavu, our dog unit team leader, received a call from some of his contacts about a baby gorilla trafficking ring. Sadly, we’ve now had several such incidences, and a system has been set up to track down the offenders, bring them to justice and recover the baby gorilla. A first undercover team was sent in to Kaina in the Lubero territory at the beginning of last week. This is a dangerous area with a strong militia presence. Shamavu led a team concealed as potential buyers. They were dressed in civilian dress but with their weapons at hand. Contact was made with the suspects, but unfortunately they were unable to see the gorilla, so they were forced to pull out. It was a tense and frustrating moment. On Thursday, he received a second message that a baby gorilla was in town, so we relaunched the operation. Shamavu and his team of four rangers and one court officer once again drove for eight hours to the remote town in a hired vehicle to avoid being recognized. This time, it all went like clockwork. He called in at six thirty last night, announcing that they had made three arrests and recovered the baby gorilla. Shamavu arrived at Rumangabo with the baby this morning, and the vets arrived an hour or so later. After an examination of the baby’s teeth and size, the Gorilla Doctors guessed the age at about a year and a half and said he appears healthy except for a possible skin fungus and lice. He will stay at the Senkwekwe Center at Rumangabo for a 30-day quarantine, separate from the other orphan gorillas, and then hopefully move to the Grauer’s gorilla sanctuary in Congo called Grace. The baby will be named Shamavu after the ranger who rescued him.

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