Gorillas In The Crossfire At Africa’s Oldest National Park

For more on the battle for Virunga National Park, visit National Geographic.

Virguna National Park Gorillas

Photograph by Brent Stirton, © Brent Stirton / National GeographicA silverback from the 22-member Mapuwa family emerges from the jungle to keep an eye on a ranger patrol. Virunga National Park has largely succeeded in protecting mountain gorillas, its top tourist draw, from violence. Their population is now growing.

TWO GROUPS OF MOUNTAIN GORILLAS WERE SLAUGHTERED in the summer of 2007, one after the other.

First, two females were shot, with one’s infant left alive and later found still clinging to its dead mother’s breast. Then came the killing of three females and a silverback, shot, burned, and, in a strange move for poachers, left otherwise intact, no trophies or meat taken for sale on the black market.

Then again, these men almost certainly weren’t poachers.

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New Technology Takes Aims At Poachers

Google and the World Wildlife Fund have teamed up to use some very cool technology to thwart some very ruthless animal poachers in Africa and Asia.

Rhino Running

TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images A black rhinoceros at the Lewa wildlife conservancy in Laikipia County, Kenya in 2015. The adult male was tranquilized and moved to spearhead the repopulation of the Sera conservancy, farther north, one affected by heavy poaching.

Poaching and illegal wildlife trading, particularly in Africa, threaten countless species. Despite decades of conservation efforts, these criminal acts are only growing (rhinos, for example, were reported to have been poached 13 times in 2007 and 1,175 times in 2015).

But according to Colby Loucks, Senior Director of the World Wildlife Fund’s conservation efforts, new programs and technologies are now being tested and implemented in parks across Africa and Asia to combat this alarming trend — and they just might work.

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