Refugee Camps Pose Threat to Gorillas

Having caught what was clearly a slip at the word processor - the reference implying Rwanda is in South America in the events item ``Shuttle Seeks Gorillas,'' Oct. 5, - I was inspired to write about the ``other'' gorillas in Zaire. I have just spent nine months in the Bukavu area of Zaire. Mountain gorillas living in the Virunga National Park are threatened by refugee camps adjacent to the park. An increase in demands on forest resources by refugees poses severe threats. Within Kahuzi-Biega National Park, there is a corridor three kilometers wide (almost two miles) that provides a forest bridge between gorillas living in the mountains and those inhabiting the lowlands. The establishment of a 50,000-person refugee camp next to this narrow corridor threatens to sever the link such that 250 gorillas in the mountains will become isolated forever. One ray of hope is that dedicated Zairian conservation professionals are working to protect gorillas and their habitat. The addition of some 1.4 million people to the region exacerbates an already critical situation. Jefferson Hall New York Director, The Wildlife Conservation Society,

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