Photo Friday: Protecting Wildlife
We have recently told you many stories about Lulimbi in the eastern central sector and our rangers’ struggle to hold onto this area against a rebel take over. Emmanuel has also mentioned the importance of protecting this area in terms of wildlife.
We tend to focus on the larger mammals our rangers protect at the park: mountain gorillas, elephant, and hippo primarily. But there is so much more, and many live in the Lake Edward area and our central sector savannah. Below are some photos of just a few other species common to Virunga that the rangers are dedicated to protecting, and this includes the ugly, unlovable, and dangerous. They all matter.
Let’s start with the ones that probably get poached the most as they are an easy catch using rope snares.
Bushbuck – these antelope make their home in the same forests as our mountain gorillas, and are regularly poached with rope snares. These same snares have caught young gorillas which can injure or kill them.
Topi in the foreground, Kob in the background, on the open plains near Lulimbi.
The beautiful Kob are also found in the area around Lulimbi.
THE UNLOVABLE, UGLY, AND DANGEROUS
If you’ve had to live with baboons, you tend to not like them much, but they are still protected animals at Virunga. We do have to regularly chase them out of our offices.
The Marabou Stork – a rather ugly bird – lives around Lake Edward in the Central Sector.
Even the deadly snakes are protected in the park – this is a Gaboon Viper, a docile and beautiful snake with an extremely venomous bite.
Crocodiles live in Lake Edward and its tributaries in the Central Sector.
HIPPO, ELEPHANT, AND BUFFALO
As Emmanuel mentioned in a blog post this week, our hippo are in an extremely precarious position now with militia groups killing them to make money for buying weapons. Photo by François de Donnea
Even if you don’t see the hippo when they come out of the water to graze at night, they leave a distinct trail.
There’s a large population of hippo that hang out on the river around the Lulimbi area, just south of Lake Edward. Photo by François de Donnea
The hippo populations in Virunga used to be the largest single population in the world. In the 1970’s there was an estimated 27,000 in Lake Edward and its tributaries. In 2003 there were only 350 left. Now we have 1200 but we risk losing them if we’re unable to stem the current burst in poaching.
Our elephant population is also under great threat in the Central Sector, with poaching on the rise.
A family of elephants in the Central Sector of the park.
These beautiful tusks put this elephant at risk of being poached, as we’ve seen far too much this year.
OUR BEAUTIFUL PRIMATES
The Blue Monkey, found in the gorilla sector forests.
Tongo Chimps. Photo by Sarah Bendelow
The glamorous Colobus monkey. Photo by Sarah Bendelow
In addition to mountain gorillas, Virunga has a family of Eastern Lowland Gorillas, or Grauer’s Gorillas, in the central western section of the park. This baby Grauer’s gorilla was rescued from poachers in October last year, and named Shamavu after the ranger who saved him.
And last, but certainly not least, our critically endangered mountain gorillas which we are committed to keeping safe.
Source: Gorilla CD