Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Eruption Of African Volcano Endangers Apes

volcano eruptsLava flowing from a volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo is threatening a population of endangered chimpanzees.

Mount Nyamulagira erupted in the early hours of Saturday morning, raining molten rock down on the forest slopes north of the country's eastern city of Goma.

The affected area is deep inside the Virunga National Park, home to a spectacular range of mega fauna including rare chimpanzees, the okapi, and critically endangered mountain gorillas.

Rivers of lava flowing since the eruption appear likely to stop short of the nearest human settlement in Saki, according to park officials, but the eruption has been "very destructive" to the chimpanzee range on the western slope of the vast Nyamulagira volcano.

"It's chimp habitat so it will have an impact," Virunga park director, Emmanuel de Merode, said by telephone from the Congo yesterday.

"The population there was already heavily depleted by years of fighting."

The so-called "Tonga group" of chimps most directly affected by the eruption is estimated to have been reduced to as few as 40 animals prior to the latest threat.

Full story here.

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