Nine baby gorillas from Rwanda and Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), will be airlifted by MONUC peacekeepers to a permanent sanctuary in Kasugho, near the Tayna Nature Reserve in North Kivu.
This follows a request from the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) and the Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund.
According to MONUC website, the three baby gorillas from Goma and six adolescent ones from Rwanda, will be lifted in MONUC helicopters in late April and mid May respectively.
“MONUC is a peacekeeping mission and is not normally associated with saving the ecosystem. But we have decided to do something a bit unusual: we have agreed to help the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) and the Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund by transporting orphaned gorillas by helicopter,” Alan Doss, Head of Peacekeeping Mission, and UN Special Representative in the DRC said while officiating at the Alexander Abraham Conservation Awards Ceremony held in Kinshasa.
“An environment, in which the State, Non Governmental Organizations and the United Nations can cooperate to give gorillas and other species a better chance of survival, is an environment in which people can also have a better chance of surviving and thriving.”
The gorillas will be accompanied by veterinarians and other helpers. Scientists believe that surface transportation would be too difficult and traumatic for the animals.
“It requires cooperation at many levels that combine the efforts of Governments, non-governmental organizations and international organizations. It requires us to reach across boundaries and do things we would not normally expect to do,” he added.
“Transferring these animals will help replenish the population and will contribute to restoring an ecosystem that has suffered, just as the human population has suffered, from war and violence” Doss said.
Only about 750 Mountain Gorillas and 5,000 Eastern Lowland Gorillas survive in the wild in the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda.