The app, launched today by the good folks at Virunga National Park, allows you to track endangered gorilla families as they move about the dense jungles of war-torn eastern Congo, through blogs, videos, and updates from park staff. It's the $4 you plunk down for the app – most of it, anyway – that goes to the park, which pays and trains rangers to protect the gorillas from poachers and rebel activity.
"The survival of Congo's mountain gorillas relies on our ability to reach out to individuals around the world who care, and to keep them informed on a daily, even hourly basis, of the rangers' efforts to protect the wildlife in Virunga National Park," said Emmanuel de Merode, director of the park. "iGorilla provides us with exactly that opportunity."
Having trudged up the lush volcano slopes to where the gorillas live with the park rangers, I can tell you that keeping the gorillas safe in that lawless corner of the world is no easy task.
Not only do the rangers hike all day, picking their way through some of the thickest vegetation you can imagine, but they have to live in a remote base camp far from their families. They also have to evade deadly attacks from poachers and various warring rebel groups.
More than 120 rangers have been killed in recent years for trying to stop the trade in exotic animals, gold, and charcoal from the park. (For more on that, read the story here.)
This new app follows other tech-savvy efforts to connect those who want to help save Congo's gorillas with those doing the saving.
More than three years ago, the Monitor reported on a charity called WildlifeDirect.org that allows donors (including 43 second-graders in Colorado) to sponsor a park ranger in return for updates from the field.