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Virunga National Park Gorilla Murders – Caught in the Line of Fire

On July 2007, four rare mountain gorillas from the Rugendo Family were senselessly shot execution style in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) Virunga National Parks. An estimated 700 of these primates remain in the wild, and this is one of the worst massacres of mountain gorillas since scientist Dian Fossey began battling poachers 40 years ago in the very same region. The question remains who killed these magnificent creatures and most of all why?

Kuryama the Mountain Gorilla

Orphan – “Nedeze”

Orphan – “Ndakasi”

Photo Credit: Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

Virunga National Park established in 1925 is Africa’s First National Park, bordered by Uganda and Rwanda contains 790,000 hectares of the greatest diversity of habitats that range from glaciers at 16,000 ft to lowland forest at 1,800 ft, and include savannas, wetlands, bamboo, montane forest, and active volcanoes. It harbors more bird (706) and mammal (196) species than any other Park in Africa, and contains 109 reptiles, 78 amphibians, at least 2,077 plant species. From steppes, savannas and lava plains, swamps, lowland and forests to volcanoes, thousands of hippopotamuses and elephants live in the park’s rivers and its mountains are a critical area for the survival of the endangered mountain and lowland gorillas.

Landsat 5 Satellite Image

IKONOS Satellite Image (0.8m) Virunga National Parks Volcano 3D Terrain Model

Image copyright © DigitalGlobe – All rights reserved.

Virunga National Parks and its endangered mountain gorillas have been caught in a deadly crossfire for years between militia groups and the Congolese Army. It is a bloody conflict complicated by the pressures of a surging refugee population and an illegal $30 million charcoal trade decimating the park and threatening the gorillas’ lives.

On Tuesday, July 1st and 5th, 2008, National Geographic Channel’s “Explorer: Gorilla Murders” reports from eastern DRC, with the full untold story behind the massacre. National Geographic journalists will be the first Westerners to gain access to the gorilla sector of the park since the killings occurred. National Geographic presents exclusive testimonials from eyewitnesses, who discuss the hunt to bring the perpetrators to justice and the desperate efforts to protect the remaining gorillas, including a lucky little infant who was found still clinging to its mother.

 

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