Gorilla Born in Gabon
by Wildlife Extra
The parents of the healthy baby are wild born orphans, Lekedi and Marco, who are ten and twelve years old respectively. They were rescued after their parents were killed for bushmeat, and, after years of rehabilitation, the orphans were released into the two protected areas, the Bateke Plateau National Park in Gabon and the Lefini Reserve in Congo. JAF have successfully reintroduced over 50 gorillas, 43 of these were orphans of the bush meat trade.
Marco’s group consists of fourteen individuals aged between eight and twelve years and have been reintroduced since 2002. Mother and new born infant both appear well.
Great Apes Survival Project
The IUCN and the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP) have identified the use of reintroduction projects as part of a global strategy for the survival of great apes. To date, the only programme trying to rehabilitate and reintroduce gorillas is that of the UK-based charity, the Aspinall Foundation - who run two western gorilla rehabilitation and reintroduction projects.
These projects are located in the southwest Lefini Reserve of Congo-Brazzaville and in the Bateke Plateau National Park (BPNP) in Gabon. The reintroduction projects, with the specific aim of re-establishing viable, self-sustaining populations within the former range of the species, have been surprisingly successful in terms of survival (more than eighty percent) adaptation to forest life, and reproduction (five births so far, all in the longer-running Congo project).
Damian Aspinall, Trustee of The John Aspinall Foundation commented: ‘We are very proud and excited by this news. In 2003 we introduced a younger group of seven gorillas, six of whom were captive-born at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent in 2003 and have high expectation that this group will soon have offspring of its own.’
The anticipated achievements and outcomes of the project are the successful reintroduction of gorillas to their natural habitat and the popularisation of the project through national and international media, ensuring that the reintroduced gorillas fulfil a role as ambassadors for their species and for the conservation of the Congo Basin forest ecosystem.
The overall goal of the project is to re-establish a viable, self-sustaining population in the area, as part of a national and international effort to save the western gorilla from extinction in the wild.