Wednesday, June 22, 2005

DRC soldiers 'killing gorillas'

A gorilla eats leaves at the Virunga national park in the Democratic Republique of Congo, not for long though.

Three government soldiers have been jailed for allegedly killing four endangered lowland gorillas in the troubled eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a United States (US) conservation group said on Wednesday.

The Atlanta-based Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International said the troops were detained after offering to sell meat from the dead gorillas to villagers near the Bakumbule Community Primate Reserve (Recopriba) earlier this month.

"According to eye-witness reports from people who work with us they were killed by members of the military," said Patrick Mehlman, the fund's Kigali-based vice-president of Africa programmes.

"Two foot-soldiers and one lieutenant have been arrested and put into military prison," he said.

The killing of the Grauer's gorillas took place on June 7 but news of it filtered out only slowly due to the remoteness of the region where the reserve is located in the DRC's Walikale Territory, he said.

The fund said in a statement residents of Pinga village had turned down the soldiers' offer of the bushmeat and several had reported the incident to local authorities, prompting the arrests.

Story here.

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