The death toll continues to rise in Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo), where three females and one male silverback gorilla were shot and killed in the southern sector of the Park during the night of 22 July.
The females, Safari, Neeza and Mburanumwe and the male Rugendo belonged to a group that was regularly visited by tourists. The death of these gorillas is not only grave for the conservation of the species but also represents a significant loss of a source of revenue for the local community.
UNESCO is working closely with ICCN (the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation) and other field experts to condemn the killings. This brings the total number of gorillas killed since the beginning of the year to seven.
UNESCO will send a mission to the site as soon as possible to provide support to those fighting to preserve the integrity of Virunga National Park. The mission will attempt to discover the reasons for the killings and work with the competent Congolese authorities, ICCN and its partners on the measures to be taken to end them. The situation threatens to become an ecological and economic disaster for the neighbouring local communities of the World Heritage site.