Congo Battles Gorilla Pet Trade

World's only sanctuary for orphaned gorillas seeks to boost tourist numbers
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2009 8:19 AM CDT
An orphaned baby gorilla recovers at a Congo reservev after it was saved from an animal trafficker who took it on a plane hidden in a bag.   (AP Photo/
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(Newser) – Conservationists trying to save the Republic of Congo's gorillas are fighting to protect the primates from poachers and the pet trade, the Daily Telegraph reports. One foundation, which warns that the gorilla population will be half what it is now by 2020 at the current rate of extermination, has founded the world's only sanctuary for rescued gorillas in the jungles north of Brazzaville.

Caring for orphaned gorillas is tough work, the Belgian conservationists who run the reserve say. The animals are more emotionally sensitive than other big primates, and relocation often causes stress and depression. Numbers at the reserve are slowly growing, however, and some gorillas have been successfully reintroduced to the wild. The foundation is now upgrading its rough facilities in in the hopes of luring more tourists, whose dollars will pay for local education and conservation projects.