silverback baseka

As many of you know, two British tourists, their driver and their park ranger escorts were attacked while heading up from Goma to Virunga National Park in May. One ranger was killed, and the tourists and driver were kidnapped and held for 48 hours until their release. As a result of this tragic event, and as a culmination of months and years of illegal occupation of the park by rebel groups that has resulted in the deaths of many dozens of park workers, the Congolese government closed Virunga National Park to all tourism until at least the end of 2018, and has severely limited access to the park in order to undertake necessary action to secure the park for the safety of staff and visitors.

This has significantly affected Gorilla Doctors’ ability to conduct our normal activities inside Virunga National Park. Ordinarily we would have conducted many routine health checks on habituated mountain gorilla groups and would immediately and easily follow up on reports of injured and ill gorillas. Now, Gorilla Doctors can only access the park under full military escort, as mandated by park authorities. We have managed to check up on the Rugendo, Humba, Munyaga and Kyakamwe groups from the Bukima patrol post – enjoy the photos – and fortunately Gorilla Doctors has not received any reports of gorillas needing medical attention since the park was closed.

rugendo group janja baby gorilla

Janja’s baby in Rugendo group

In the meantime, Gorilla Doctors is able to continue its work in Kahuzi Biega National Park, on the other side of Lake Kivu in South Kivu province, where we monitor the health of habituated Grauer’s gorillas. As an example, Dr. Martin recently performed routine health checks on the Bonane group and checked in on lone silverback Mugaruka. All gorillas were healthy – enjoy the photos! On another positive note, Dr. Eddy was recently awarded a grant by the National Geographic Society to support Gorilla Doctors’ work on the critically endangered Grauer’s gorillas: congratulations to Dr. Eddy and the DRC team!

silverback Mugaruka

One-handed silverback Mugaruka