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Undercover rescue saves baby gorilla

Jun 27, 2006

The gorilla's family had been slaughtered for food in Africa.

IDPE stepped in when they were recently alerted about the sale of an orphaned infant gorilla. IDPE Director Bantu Lukambo and his team posed as buyers and immediately confiscated the traumatized 4-month-old infant.

‘‘The infant was in a terrible state with injuries to its arms and weak from lack of food and being drugged with sedatives,” said Bantu.

IDPE took the infant to the Congolese National Parks Institute (ICCN), where it is now being cared for.

Retribution against rescuers

However, for Bantu and his team, the story did not end with the infant's return to safety. Two days after the rescue, the gorilla's seller, a rogue military officer, took his vengeance by having Bantu locked up in prison on false charges. Fortunately, Bantu was freed from prison four hours later with the help of other activist groups. Bantu and his team remain undeterred by incident.

“Such acts will not stop us from continuing our efforts to stop the destruction of the national park and the indiscriminate and inhumane slaughter of our wildlife," said Bantu Lukambo, IDPE Director, upon his release from prison.

Working for animal welfare

IDPE works on a variety of issues ranging from direct assistance to companion animals in surrounding villages and towns to tackling the bushmeat trade - the killing of wild animals for food in Africa - through intense lobbying, education and enforcement. Recently, the group was awarded a small grant to purchase equipment to enable them to continue enforcement and provide much needed education to the public on the need for animal welfare and conservation.

Mountain gorillas homes at risk

The Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the few remaining indigenous homes of mountain gorillas and other tropical forest wildlife. Years of civil unrest and war have led to increased human encroachment on the land, which has in turn led to rampant deforestation and an expansion in the capture and trade of wildlife for bushmeat consumption.  In the wake of the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda, a massive influx of refugees fleeing for their lives took refuge in Virunga, further contributing to the massive deforestation and poaching. As a result of the ensuing devastation, the UN inscribed Virunga as a “World Heritage in Danger” site in 1994.

Since that time, several international organizations have made considerable efforts to restore the park and conserve wildlife habitat. However, continuous civil unrest, lack of government resources and population pressure are still taking their toll on the environment, and the poaching of all mammals remains rampant.

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A bonobo with its young at a sanctuary supported by WSPA