Thursday, May 14, 2009

Innovation to Protect Congo Gorillas

Mountain gorillas only survive in one tiny area on planet earth. That area is geo-politically divided into Rwanda, Uganda and Congo. Uganda and Rwanda bring in a lot of tourist dollars to protect gorillas and gorilla tourism is a big part of the economy. Congo has a lot more trouble because it is generally considered not safe for tourism. So if a habituated gorilla travels from Rwanda and Uganda into Congo, it may not have the protection of rangers and there are a lot more risks: more poaching, more deforestation, etc.

I regularly read the blog of the Congo gorilla park. In the last six months they have lost at least two rangers who were killed in the line of duty protecting gorillas. They have rescued and gotten to a safe rehab facility baby chimps and baby gorillas that were in horrible conditions in captivity for the illegal pet trade. They have been driven from the park by rebels and retaken their ground. They have witnesses gorilla births and deaths, chronicled what gorillas they have seen, and started a very innovative program making briquettes and teaching villagers how to do so. The briquette program helps stop deforestation as people no longer have to cut trees for wood. They have worked hard on getting machines up and running which are very simple and teaching villagers how to use them, and why they should. Under the most adverse conditions, these people work to protect the park and the gorillas in it.

They have a new innovative program where for $15 a month you can sponsor a segment of the forest and keep it free from snares. I'm sponsoring Sector 69. I strongly encourage you to consider supporting a sector as well. The funds are needed and you know exactly how they are being used, to find a ranger to protect a specific area, and you will get documentation of the efforts in that area. The gorillas in Congo can't count on tourist dollars but they can count on mine. I have tremendous respect for the people sacrificing on the ground for their protection.

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