Scale of gorilla poaching in Congo exposed
London, September 17 (ANI): An undercover investigation has exposed the scale of gorilla poaching, by finding that up to two gorillas are killed and sold as bushmeat each week in Kouilou, a region of the Republic of Congo.
According to report by BBC News, after the apes are killed, their body parts are then taken downriver and passed on to traders who sell them in big-city markets.
Conducted by the conservation group Endangered Species International, the investigation helps expose the extent of gorilla poaching in the country.
The group began its investigation by going undercover, talking to sellers and traders at food markets in Pointe Noire, the second largest city in the Republic of Congo.
Over the course of a year, investigators visited the markets twice a month, recording the amount of bushmeat for sale.
"Gorilla meat is sold pre-cut and smoked for about 6 dollars per 'hand-sized' piece. Actual gorilla hands are also available," said Pierre Fidenci, president of Endangered Species International (ESI).
The gorilla meat goes to the nearest, biggest and most profitable place.
"Over time, we got the confidence of the sellers and traders. They gave us the origin of the gorilla meat and it all comes from a single region," said Fidenci.
The team then undertook an expedition to travel to the source of this meat, a forested area called Kouilou, which lies along the Kouilou River around 100 to 130km from Pointe Noire.
Using the same boats that ferry the gorilla meat downriver to the city, the investigators travelled upstream, taking photographs and recording interviews with villagers, which revealed the extent of the gorilla poaching.
The investigators also undertook field surveys to ascertain the size of the population of wild western lowland gorillas living in the region.
"According to interviews and field surveys, we think we may have about 200 gorillas left in the area," said Fidenci. "But we estimate that 4 percent of the population is being killed each month, or 50 percent in a year. It is a lot," he added.
The poachers particularly target adult gorillas of reproductive age which carry the most meat. ith such heavy hunting, the researchers believe gorillas could disappear from the region within a decade.
"Our study has disclosed the horrific scale of the endangered species market in the Republic of Congo, especially endangered gorillas sold as meat," said Fidenci.
"We intend to stop the killing in the area by providing alternative income to locals and working with hunters not against them," he added. (ANI)
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