Sunday, October 26, 2008

Congolese rebels seize gorilla park

I try quite hard not to make this course too depressing. I also try not to make the blog a non-stop parade of bad news. But sometimes it just keeps on coming. A headline today on CNN is 'Thousands flee fighting as Congo rebels seize gorilla park.'
Rebels have seized the headquarters of the Virunga National Park in the Eastern Congo. The 3,000 square mile park is home to 200 of the remaining 700 mountain gorillas. The 50 park rangers have been forced to flee.

This is the same park where seven gorillas were murdered last year. National Geographic covered this story in depth. Curiously this month's issue has a letter objecting to the use of the word murder in the gorilla story.

The continual conflict in the Congo has had a severe toll on wildlife in the region. In 2005 a survey by the World Wide Fund for Nature showed the population of hippopotamuses in Lake Edward in Virunga National Park's had plummeted to less than 900 individuals from an estimated 29,000.

The fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is also a humanitarian crisis. Since 1998, and the start of the Second Congo War (also known as Africa's World War) over 5 million people have died. Although the second Congo war ended in 2003 this has not stopped the fighting or the deaths due to malnutrition and disease.

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