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Congolese Rebels Threaten Endangered Mountain Gorillas

November 2, 2008
  • tags: gorillas,mountain gorillas,Congo

    • Congolese rebels have seized Virunga National Park in eastern Congo, a 3,000-square-mile expanse that is home to more than 50 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s biodiversity, including 200 or more of the 700 critically endangered mountain gorillas that still exist, according to United Nations and park official
    • fter Congolese rebels killed and ate two mountain gorillas in January 2007, the United Nations mediated a meeting between Nkunda’s forces and several wildlife groups, and the rebels agreed to stop killing the gorillas. The pledge was short-lived, however, because the rebels killed several more gorillas during 2007 and 2008, including four that were massacred, execution-style, in July 2007.
    • People in Africa need charcoal to cook their food and purify their drinking water. Fighting has driven up the price of charcoal. Hungry villagers need to produce charcoal to buy food, and the rebels need the money charcoal brings to finance their war against the Congolese government.

      Virunga National Park is filled with trees the rebels want to turn into charcoal, but the park rangers are dedicated to protecting the forest as wildlife habitat. The rebels believe that killing the gorillas will leave the rangers with nothing to protect and no reason to patrol the park. The rangers are also at risk from the rebels. During the past decade, 120 park rangers have lost their lives trying to defend Virunga National Park and its wildlife.

    • The ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis (primarily disease and starvation) in the Democratic Republic of Congo have killed some 5.4 million people since 1998 and continues to claim the lives of 45,000 people every month, according to an International Rescue Committee report issued in January 2008. The conflict also has created hundreds of thousands of displaced refugees who have been forced to flee their homes to avoid the fighting and seek food for their starving families.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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