Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Baby Gorilla On Black Market For $40000 Is Rescued

The black market for baby gorillas is growing, officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo said Tuesday, after a fourth incident this year led to the arrest of alleged poachers trying to sell one infant for $40,000.

This year marks "the highest number of baby gorillas confiscated from poachers in a single year on record," the Congolese Wildlife Authority said in a statement.

"We are very concerned about a growing market for baby gorillas that is feeding a dangerous trafficking activity in rebel controlled areas," said Emmanuel de Merode, warden of Congo's Virunga National Park. "We are powerless to control the international trade in baby gorillas, but our rangers are doing everything they can to stamp it out on the ground."

The park, Africa's oldest, is home to mountain gorillas, lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, elephants and buffalo. The park has also seen fighting inside its borders and nearby during an ongoing 12-year civil war.

The four rescues so far this year, which happened between April and last Thursday, follow the one to two a year saved since 2003, when accurate records were first kept, park spokeswoman LuAnne Cadd told

"If four have been caught since April, the question is how many have been missed?" she asked. "How many more are being captured and sold?"

The latest rescue came when Virunga rangers, acting on a tip, posed as potential buyers of the infant, an eastern lowland gorilla that was hidden inside a small backpack. The three suspects, who wanted $40,000, were arrested once the undercover rangers had possession of the gorilla.

"Like all the infant gorillas we see immediately after confiscation, he was extremely tense and stressed, holding his legs and arms tight up against his body, and turning his head away when he got too frightened," said Jan Ramer, a veterinarian with the Mountain Gorilla Veterinarian Project (MGVP) who treated the gorilla afterwards.

Full story here.

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