KINIGI - Rwanda Development Board (RDB) in collaboration with partners in conservation airlifted, six orphaned Low Land Gorillas from Kinigi, Northern Province to the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Centre (GRACE) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The six Gorillas, aged between 5 – 9 years, were brought to the Kinigi facility after they were impounded from poachers.
It was agreed by partners that the gorillas should be returned to the DRC after it was established that GRACE was an appropriate sanctuary for the rare species.
While overseeing the operation, the head of tourism and conservation at RDB, Rica Rwigamba, commended the exercise.
“This is a significant step both in multinational conservation collaboration and an attempt to reintroduce rescued gorillas to their natural habitat. We are moving the gorillas from the temporary Kinigi facility to the new gorilla rescue centre in the DRC, where they will be introduced to other rescued gorillas already there as they prepare for eventual release to the wild,” she said.
The Kinigi temporary facility is funded by US Fish and Wildlife, and managed by RDB-Tourism & Conservation, the Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGF-I) and the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP).
The wildlife authorities of both countries, RDB and the Congolese Institute for Conservation of Nature (ICCN), had agreed to place the gorillas together in the temporary facility while plans were made for their long-term future.
All of the young Gorillas are the victims of poaching which disintegrated them from their groups and families.
This is the second such operation of its kind, after the first which saw a 9-year old female gorilla named Maisha that was rescued in 2004 and 6-year old male Kaboko rescued in 2007, were both transferred back to the DRC in November last year. Both are said to be in good health.