Bush fires ‘forcing rare mountain gorillas to flee to DRC

  Bush fires forcing rare mountain gorillas to flee to DRC

20 July 2009

published by www.earthtimes.org

Uganda/Rwanda — Hundreds of animals including rare mountain gorillas are fleeing Uganda and Rwanda to the Democratic Republic of Congo following raging bush fires over the weekend, The New Vision newspaper reported Monday quoting wildlife officials. The fires started Sunday on the Rwandan side of the mountainous bamboo-forested enclave straddling the three states. The ecological zone is home to the world’s 720 remaining mountain gorillas.

The fires soon spread to the Ugandan side of the park and “the gorillas are fleeing to the Congo side of the mountain range,” the government-owned daily reported.

Efforts to control the fires during the current dry season affecting most parts of Africa were hampered by an acute shortage of water, the newspaper quoted ecologists as saying.

“We are working with the respective armies in Uganda and Rwanda and other stakeholders to manage the situation,” said Moses Mapesa, operations director of the state-run Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).

Despite the immediate damage, Mapesa was however quoted as saying that the fires in the long run “help the system get rid of excessive biomass and dangerous species like some fungi, thus giving way for better and healthier species to emerge.”

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