Newsweek recently published a cover story about the recent murder of mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I found the article, written by Scot Johnson, quite moving. Here’s how he describes the discovery of the corpses:
The mammoth gorilla lay on her side, a small pink tongue protruding slightly from her lips. She was pregnant and her breasts were engorged with milk for the baby that now lay dead inside her womb.
The rangers crowded around and caressed the gorilla’s singed fur. They shook their heads and clicked their tongues with disapproval. One grabbed her hand and held it for a long time, his head bowed in grief. This gorilla—whom the rangers knew as intimately as they do all those who live in their sector of the park—was named Mburanumwe. Her killers had set her alight after executing her. Now her eyes were closed, as if in deep concentration.
“My God,” one ranger said in disgust, “they even burned her.” Nearby the rangers found the bodies of two other adult females, all from the same 12-member family. Two infants had been orphaned. A male would be found dead the next day. The massacre, first discovered on July 23, could be the worst slaughter of mountain gorillas in the last quarter century.
Seven mountain gorillas have been killed this year. But who is killing them? And why? The Congolese economic and political situation is complicated, and ongoing conflict threatens Virunga National Park, where these gorillas live. Park rangers who speak out for the wildlife find their own lives threatened.
[Newsweek: Gorilla Warfare]