Endangered Gorillas Pose For Pictures With The Park Rangers

Some people dedicate their entire lives to saving nature and endangered wildlife.  Rangers at The Virunga National Park, in the DRC, are some of these humans who will restore your faith in humanity. Ranger Mathieu Shamavu’s now-viral photo shows him posing with two gorillas who live in the National Park, safe from poachers or any armed conflicts that may affect their well-being.

Virunga National Park is a famous UNESCO World Heritage Site and is maintained by more than 600 anti-poaching rangers. Historically, this area had been profoundly affected by armed conflicts and war-like situations, which left a significant negative impact on the populations who inhabited the region, and the animals living in the surrounding area. Unfortunately, the gorillas in the animal kingdom had been killed due to traditional medicine, food, and the bushmeat trade. Rangers are fighting to protect these poor animals, and their incredible bond is visible in the photos.

Female gorillas pose with their anti-poaching park ranger.

To be employed, the rangers must undergo intense training to ensure the rangers’ and gorillas’ safety in this dangerous job, which aims to protect the park’s endangered species. This park chiefly survives on donations from the public. A kind donation of $150 can feed an orphaned gorilla for two weeks. Smaller donations are also accepted and can be used to purchase boots for the rangers and provide safe facilities to the endangered gorillas.

The rangers find this job to be a rewarding and challenging task since the animals show their complete trust for the Rangers, which is observed in the photos.

Gorillas playing with their anti-poaching ranger.

Note that, Virunga National Park is home to 22 primate species, 78 amphibia, 109 reptiles, 706 bird, and 218 mammals. Almost a third of the endangered mountain gorillas population throughout the world live in this park. Daily, rangers fight to keep the wildlife safe. Unfortunately, 179 wildlife soldiers have lost their lives while protecting these animals.

“There is a bond that ties us together. A relationship that is very, very close between the guardians and the gorillas,” says Andre Bauma, the manager of the Senkwekwe Centre. The rangers and the gorillas display an unconditional love towards one another at the Virunga National Park.
The park had been founded in 1925 to defend its rich biodiversity; the region has the presence of the last 880 mountain gorillas. In 1979, it was classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and has created a mesmerizing example for human beings around the world. 

An American Female Hero Who Dedicates Her Time to Killing Poachers

Statistics say that 3500 people are born every 20 minutes on this planet, and sadly, at the same time, a complete species of animals or plants die forever.

It is unfortunate that if this ebb and flow continue in this manner, approximately 20% of the species on this planet will become extinct in the next 30 years. An example of such a species is the black rhino; their population has decreased by almost 97.6% since the 1960s.

Presently, the market price of the rhino horn is somewhere around $30,000 per pound; and this considerable price gives a clear indication of why people are using highly advanced weapons and technologies to track animals in the wild. Endangered animals are slaughtered every year for their body parts such as bones, pelts, horns, etc., that are sold at a substantial price on the black market. These horns are further used to create some religious figurines, and in many markets, people create toddler-sized men as a cure to sexual helplessness.

Some veterans from the U.S. took the initiative to save these endangered animals while taking solid steps against illegal hunting. Kinessa Johnson is the most famous name on the list; this retired U.S. veteran had previously completed several tours in Afghanistan. Currently, she is an anti-poaching advisor, and her team is responsible for training in field medicine, marksmanship, as well as counterintelligence.

Rhino in Tanzania

Before the formation of the group Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife (VETPAW), made of U.S. veterans, 187 park rangers in Tanzania had lost their lives while protecting elephants and rhinos in the area.

The elephant poaching rate in Tanzania had increased over the years; until, Johnson and her team arrived in Africa and joined VETPAW. They started dealing with the poaching issues so that animals who live in Tanzania can be protected by whatever means possible. The poacher’s assassination squad has safeguarded hundreds of animals during this last year.

Johnson and her team are making great efforts to protect the animals, especially elephants and rhinos in the area. A considerable level of the slaughtering cases is now reduced, and it is expected that this issue will be eliminated in a short time. Johnson has dedicated her entire life to these wild creatures, and she is always ready to kill poachers. They are also trying to enforce the existing poaching law in the area, so these mistakes are not made again.

Johnson and her team have created an example for the world, and everyone should take some inspiration from their efforts. They have contributed a lot to save the planet and the innocent living beings in the wild.

Epic Victory of Mozambique’s Niassa Reserve – Zero Elephant Poaching Last Year

A victory for The Niassa Reserve in northern Mozambique, in southeast Africa, has been marked, it is scoring almost 20+ months without a single tusker lost to poachers. Precisely, 17 May 2018 is the last time a poacher killed an elephant in this reserve. Due to the raging organized poaching, The Niassa Reserve in northern Mozambique had lost several hundreds of tuskers, before 2016. From 2016-2018, the number has decreased with an average of a few hundred killed each year. 

The dramatic turnaround was achievable through rigorous anti-poaching activities that have been deployed to achieve this success:

  • A compatible association of Govt. of Mozambique and privilege operators in Niassa Reserve
  • Deployment of a Rapid Intervention Unit. This unit of police formed is better armed than regular rangers
  • Spiking surveillance through different aviation and drone programs
  • Reinforcing harsh sentences for poachers

Did you know the size of the Niassa Reserve is more significant than the country of Switzerland? 

One wonders how much effort would have been needed to achieve zero poaching goals. James Bampton, who is a country director with New-York based Wildlife Conservation Society, calls it a remarkable achievement. This new success has encouraged a hope that elephants in the Niassa Reserve “stand a genuine chance for recovery.” In addition to that, the partnership helps to keep watch for illegal fishing activities in The Reserve. The reinforcement of harsher sentences weakened these poaching activities, and many cases had been prosecuted under severe penalties. 

Elephants in the Niassa Reserve in Mozambique. WCS Mozambique

The Reserve was the ultimate spot of tragic poaching of tuskers, mainly from 2009-2014. It would not be wrong to call these five years as catastrophic times for the ecosystem. Poaching is a threat to our ecosystem, creating an imbalance. It is the greed of organized criminals who want to kill and sell animals to humans to satisfy their needs. Poachers are usually the impoverished people looking for ready cash. As per the aerial survey, from 2000 – 2011, there existed an average estimate of 12,000 elephants at this reserve. A dramatic reduction in population was recorded in five years 2009-2014. In contrast to 12,000 tuskers, only 3,675 elephants were recorded in the year 2016. 

Given the vast colossal extent of wildlife in The Niassa Reserve, it is one of the few sites in Africa capable of sustaining a robust population of elephants. The reserve is a part of the Niassa-Selous Transfrontier Conservation Area of a natural and untouched landscape. Per some research, it is currently estimated to sustain a multitude of 20,000 elephants. 

Regardless of the well-calculated efforts of Govt. of Mozambique and privilege operators in Niassa Reserve, it will take an unknown amount of years for the elephant population to overhaul to its former levels. Experts claim that annual tusker losses still surpass the birth rate, and the intrusion of human settlements is shrinking the animals’ range. According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, poaching of elephants has radically declined to pre-2008 levels after reaching a peak in the year 2011. 

A Watchdog and a Baby Giraffe Develop a Friendship

Last week at The Rhino Orphanage, in Mokopane South Africa, a local farmer brought in an abandoned baby giraffe he had found. The baby giraffe was only two days old and abandoned by his mother. When the calf was first discovered, he was weak and dehydrated. Caretakers named the calf, Jazz.

At The Rhino Orphanage, based in the Limpopo Province, lives a dog, a watchdog named Hunter. Hunter resides in the sanctuary and protects the Rhinos from predators. When Jazz, the giraffe, came to the reserve the resident watchdog Hunter rapidly began to care for the new strange calf. Not long after, Hunter and Jazz were inseparable.

The workers at the non-profit organization noticed Jazz and Hunter were always together. The baby giraffe is being fed leaves and given IV therapy to help him become stronger and stay hydrated. Hunter is still there when Jazz is feeding, and they have been observed sleeping together too.

Jazz and Hunter sleeping at the Orphanage. Credit: AP

Mammals naturally need companionship, like humans, to reduce their stress and they need their community. Hunter’s fellowship to Jazz during his time of recovery has no doubt aided the calf. The caretakers expect that Jazz will be released to the wild soon and live out his days eating leaves from tall trees in the Savanna.