Kinigi- Kasugho: On Monday, May 19th 2014, IHIRWE, an orphan gorilla was transferred from Kinigi, Rwanda, back to her home in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The endangered female from the Grauer Family was taken from poachers in August 2011 and had been living in a facility in Kinigi, Rwanda where she was being nursed by a team of veterinarians (Gorilla Doctors)
The gorilla transfer to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was organized through the joint support of the Rwanda Development Board,Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund International, Directorate of Immigration and the Rwanda National Police. The gorilla was taken to the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) in Northeastern DRC, where she will join 13 other orphaned gorillas.
Dr. Mwamba Tshibasu, the Executive Secretary of Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration GVTC, who has been working with the team on the transfer said ‘The success of this operation to bring Ihirwe back home to the DRC shows the strong commitment that both Rwanda and the DRC have in reinforcing the conservation not only in their countries, but also with neighbors through the Transboundary collaboration.”.
Dr. Jean Felix Kinani from the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project who has taken care of this gorilla since 2011 said "I watched Ihirwe recover after her rescue from the poachers I hope she will integrate easily at GRACE Sanctuary.
Sonya Kahlenberg, GRACE Executive Director added “GRACE is honored to be part of these conservation efforts and looks forward to helping Ihirwe adjust to her new life.”
Eastern Lowland gorillas – also known as Grauer’s gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri) -- are classified as “endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, and are found only in eastern DR Congo. Seriously threatened by habitat loss, human encroachment, illegal trade, disease, and regional instability, only about 5,000 Grauer’s gorillas remain in the wild.
- Rwanda Development Board’s(RDB) core mandate is to fast track Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth.The Department of Tourism and Conservation within the Rwanda Development Board is responsible for conserving the rich biodiversity of the Protected Areas and developing sustainable tourism in collaboration with stakeholders for the benefit of all the Rwandan People’.
- INSTITUT CONGOLAIS POUR LA CONSERVATION DE LA NATURE (ICCN) is the Democratic Republic of Congo's Wildlife Authority. ICCN has a legal mandate to enforce the conservation laws that are designed to protect Congo’s flora and fauna.
- THE GREATER VIRUNGA TRANSBOUNDARY COLLABORATION (GVTC) is a mechanism for strategic, transboundary collaborative conservation of the biodiverse Greater Virunga Landscape found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. The mission of GVTC is to strengthen transboundary collaboration for conservation and sustainable development across the Central Albertine Rift. www.greatervirunga.org
- THE DIAN FOSSEY GORILLA FUND INTERNATIONAL is dedicated to the conservation and protection of gorillas and their habitats in Africa. Founded by Dr. Dian Fossey as the Digit Fund and renamed after her death, the Fossey Fund operates the Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda, and maintains a staff of scientists, trackers and anti-poaching patrols in Volcanoes National Park. The Fossey Fund also studies Grauer’s Gorillas and their habitat and works with community-managed reserves in the Democratic Republic of Congo through its Grauer’s Gorilla Conservation and Research Program. In addition, the Fossey Fund operates extensive education, health and other community outreach programs. For more information, visit www.gorillafund.org. To read about Fossey Fund’s role in Ihirwe’s rescue and care, visit gorillafund.org and type “Ihirwe” in the search box.
- Mountain Gorilla veterinary project/GORILLA DOCTORS - Founded in 1986 at the request of the late gorilla researcher Dian Fossey, the Gorilla Doctors are dedicated to conserving Central Africa’s endangered mountain and Grauer’s gorillas through life-saving veterinary care and a One Health approach. www.gorilladoctors.org
- GORILLA REHABILITATION AND CONSERVATION EDUCATION (GRACE) CENTER - Founded in 2009 by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International in collaboration with the Congolese Wildlife Authority (ICCN) and Tayna Center for Conservation Biology, GRACE is the only facility in the world dedicated to providing in situ rehabilitative care for orphaned Grauer’s gorillas and ultimately aims to reintroduce gorillas back into the wild. Please visit www.gracegorillas.org
- GREAT APE SURVIVAL PARTNERSHIP (GRASP) is a unique alliance comprised of 95 partner nations, United Nations agencies, conservation organizations, zoos, and private supporters working to conserve great apes and their habitat in Africa and Asia. Founded in 2001, GRASP focuses on global issues such as political advocacy, illegal trade, habitat loss, disease monitoring and trans-boundary collaboration. For more information, please visit www.un-grasp.org.