Baby gorilla Shamavu doesn’t know how close he came to being sold by poachers on the black market for up to $50,000.
He only knows he’s lonely and afraid.
Year-old Shamavu was rescued by the Congolese Wildlife Authorities rangers in Africa’s Virunga National Park in a sting operation.
Gorillas are an endangered species, and illegal trading is threatening their very existence. More poachers have been caught this year than ever before.
There are believed to be only 790 mountain gorillas left on the planet, and almost 500 of them are found in the Virunga volcanoes, a conservation area that’s spread across Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. The other 300 or so creatures can be found in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
“We are powerless to control the international trade in baby gorillas,” said Emmanuel de Merode, director of Virunga National Park. “But our rangers are doing everything they can to stamp it out on the ground.
Ian Redmond, chairman of the conservation group the Ape Alliance, said the demand for stolen gorillas seems to be highest in the Middle East. “There are wealthy animal collectors,” he said, “and a tradition of giving big gifts to curry favor … and maybe wealthy Russians.”
Read more of the story, and see more photos of baby Shamavu, at the Daily Mail.