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

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 of Visoke

Virunga National Parks Volcano 3D Terrain Model

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.

For more information on this special episode visit National Geographic.

“Explorer: Gorilla Murders” is produced by National Geographic Television and Film. Executive producer is Jonathan Halperin, senior producer is Robert Zakin and producer/director is Michael Davie. For National Geographic Channel, executive producer is Kathleen Cromley; senior vice president of production is Juliet Blake; and executive vice president of content is Steve Burns.

To view our story on “How Conservationist and Scientists Use Satellite Image Technology to Monitor the Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Parks go here.

More on the massacred Rugendo Gorilla Family.

To read Dian Fossey’s Articles in National Geographic

Wildlife Direct – read the latest up to minute news about the mountain gorillas, cheetahs, rhinos, bonobos, and other large African wildlife.

About Satellite Imaging Corporation

Satellite Imaging Corporation provides satellite imagery and GIS mapping in support of conservation for groups such as Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and provides imagery with valuable information on land cover and use changes for wildlife protected areas utilizing satellite sensors such as QuickBird, IKONOS, SPOT-5, LANDSAT, ASTER, ALOS and Aerial Photography for assessment and monitoring of our forests.

Satellite images provide extremely useful information to Conservationists, Scientists and Researchers in viewing out-of-the-way remote places. Conservationists, for example, must monitor far-flung areas in need of protection. Wars, poverty, remoteness, lack of government involvement, and uncertainty over the best places and ways to focus limited resources can all hinder conservation efforts. Now, satellite imagery is giving scientists and conservationists some of the tools they need to get valuable information on land cover and land use changes in wild areas that are in need of protection.


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