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Four endangered gorillas found shot dead
July 26, 2007 9:21 AM   Subscribe

Four endangered gorillas were found shot dead in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a conservation group announced today. For all the evil bastards that do this, there are many, many more good people fighting the good fight to help keep gorillas healthy. One, even has a blog.
posted by james_cpi (41 comments total)

 
Unfortunately, it only takes one evil fucker with a gun to undo all the good efforts in the world.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:27 AM on July 26, 2007


But the thing is it takes but a few "evil bastards" (I prefer the term sociopath) to do significant damage.

Regardless of the number of the "good" (mentally well) people who are doing important work, we still have approximately 1% of the planet dedicated to utter wrong-doing.

I am experiencing it right now here in Key West. It's Lobster Mini-Season, a two-day cowboy festival, with numbskulls from all over the state coming down and destroying the coral we protect all year long.
posted by humannaire at 9:31 AM on July 26, 2007


Wait, a gorilla has a blog?
posted by Mister_A at 9:31 AM on July 26, 2007


no, Mister_A, but apparently one has a MeFi account ;)
posted by james_cpi at 9:35 AM on July 26, 2007


Did the park ranger types construct those litters they're on? I assume so, otherwise it's pretty clear that the killers were hauling the bodies away. Anyway, I assume that the killers wanted these gorillas as trophies or something and got spooked or what have you... for what reasons do people generally kill gorillas? Surely not for the meat?
posted by Mister_A at 9:36 AM on July 26, 2007


The A is for Ape, james_cpi.
posted by Mister_A at 9:37 AM on July 26, 2007


Actually yes, people DO kill gorillas for the meat.
posted by mkb at 9:38 AM on July 26, 2007


Ahh yes, I see they did skin one of the gorillas. Not excusing this behavior, but knowing why they did it can be of great importance in preventing more gorillacide.
posted by Mister_A at 9:39 AM on July 26, 2007


And the hands as trophy prizes, I hear.
posted by agregoli at 9:39 AM on July 26, 2007


That is unbelievably depressing. I can't even begin to understand the motivation behind something like this.

I'm not much liking humans today.
posted by quin at 9:39 AM on July 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


From what I understand, they have to kill the mothers to get the baby gorillas in order to sell the babies on the black market.

They also have to kill the silverback as he fights to protect the group.
posted by james_cpi at 9:44 AM on July 26, 2007


I don't have a reference, but didn't some members of the interahamwe militia flee to gorilla habitats in Rwanda? I think they killed some gorillas for bush meat and then they killed others to spite park rangers and pursuing law enforcement. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
posted by BigSky at 9:49 AM on July 26, 2007


.
posted by Pecinpah at 10:04 AM on July 26, 2007


Ahh yes, I see they did skin one of the gorillas. Not excusing this behavior, but knowing why they did it can be of great importance in preventing more gorillacide.
posted by Mister_A at 9:39 AM on July 26


previous on congo gorilla killings
posted by infini at 10:12 AM on July 26, 2007


“What makes humans and nonhuman primates different?” Hohmann said. “To nail this down, you have to know how these nonhuman primates behave. We have to measure what we can see today. We can use this as a reference for the time that has passed. There will be no other way to do this. And this is what puts urgency into it: because there is no doubt that, in a hundred years, there won’t be great apes in the wild. It would be blind to look away from that. In a hundred years, the forest will be gone. We have to do it now. This forest is the very, very last stronghold. This is all we have.”

From Swingers (about Bonobos), in this week's New Yorker.
posted by liam at 10:15 AM on July 26, 2007


I hope they collect and store DNA samples from those corpses, because that is all we'll have of the gorillas soon.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:29 AM on July 26, 2007


Four million people died in in the civil wars Congo had a few years ago. Most people didn't give shit about those 4 million people then and I certainly don't care much about these 4 apes now.

On a sad-news-from-Africa scale this is like a 2.
posted by uandt at 10:32 AM on July 26, 2007


good for you Uandt: you cared. tell us what you did then.
posted by Postroad at 10:35 AM on July 26, 2007


To loosley invoke Stalin, '"A single (gorilla) death is a tragedy, a million (congolese) deaths is a statistic."
posted by isopraxis at 10:47 AM on July 26, 2007


On a completely serious note: Why a person care that they four gorillas were killed? Again, this is not flame bait, but an honest question. After all, species go extinct all the time.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:49 AM on July 26, 2007


After all, species go extinct all the time.

But rarely are they so evolutionarily close to humans. I think people get freaked out because there is an unconscious awareness that if gorillas can go extinct, and we couldn't do anything to stop it, perhaps we could as well...

Also, it's always particularly tragic when a species goes extinct because of willful efforts on the parts of humans. When something dies because of a shift in it's habitat (even if it was one caused by people) we can shrug and say that nature is fickle. When it's because we hunted and killed every last one, we can only blame ourselves.
posted by quin at 11:01 AM on July 26, 2007


Species that go extinct because they are not adequately equipped by evolution to survive is one thing. Species that are threatened with extinction because of morons with guns makes me wish that morons with guns were extinct.

My son has an adopted rhino, named Piggy, that we have sponsored since he was a very young child (my son, not the rhino). Rhinos are so hunted for their horns (which are not aphrodisiacs) that park wardens in conservatories in Africa have sawed the animals' horns off in efforts to keep them from being targeted. Poachers responded by slaughtering the hornless rhinos and leaving their bodies behind.
posted by misha at 11:01 AM on July 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


On a completely serious note: Why a person care that they four gorillas were killed? Again, this is not flame bait, but an honest question. After all, species go extinct all the time.

Adding to quin's answer... These species don't live in a bubble. The health of populations of apex species is often indicative of the health of the entire ecosystem. Plus, the fact that people like gorillas-- maybe we identify with our 'cousins'-- gives us a Good Reason to protect them and the forest where they live. When the gorillas are gone, it will be that much more difficult to prevent the entire habitat from following.
posted by zennie at 11:13 AM on July 26, 2007


Mike Vick says he doesn't think there's anything wrong with killing gorillas.
posted by inigo2 at 11:18 AM on July 26, 2007


Uandt, you make an interesting point, but I don't think that's a constructive way of looking at this.

If four endangered gorillas were shot dead at the San Diego Zoo, I think people would be (rightfully) very upset about it. To say that the fact it happened in Africa makes it less upsetting because Africa is so full of suffering is, in a way, devaluing African lives. It's saying that African tragedy gets measured by a different yardstick.

I agree that more people should care about the suffering of the Congolese people, who have been through generations of incredibly awful shit, much of which was inflicted upon them by outsiders. But that doesn't mean I don't care about these gorillas.

It's particularly silly to dismiss conservation efforts, since they have the potential to be helpful to both Congolese people and Congolese gorillas. Addressing the root poverty behind killing gorillas for food and sale helps everyone. So does the increased investment and cashflow into the area from tourism and researchers.

The idea of mountain gorillas becoming extinct is terribly sad. Research continues to show us how much can be learned about human behavior and evolution by studying our closest relatives. And it is not a great leap to suppose that of all the animals we share the planet with, apes and chimpanzees are the most capable of understanding and sharing the subtleties of human emotion. That's valuable shit, and yes, I feel justified in caring more about the extinction of great apes than the extinction of the extinction of the crawling water beatle.
posted by bookish at 11:28 AM on July 26, 2007


this is not flame bait

O RLY?
posted by Mister_A at 11:38 AM on July 26, 2007


On a completely serious note: Why a person care that they four gorillas were killed? Again, this is not flame bait, but an honest question. After all, species go extinct all the time.

I guess I care because I think about these animals being scared and essentially defenseless against a weapon like a gun, and then I think about the type of person who would shoot them (apparently for no reason) and it makes me sad.

Not everything that we care about needs sound empirical analysis and evidence behind it to make it valid.
posted by thekilgore at 11:54 AM on July 26, 2007


It's saying that African tragedy gets measured by a different yardstick.

Way over here in the land of Paris and Lindsey, it does.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:55 AM on July 26, 2007


Four million people died in in the civil wars Congo had a few years ago. Most people didn't give shit about those 4 million people then and I certainly don't care much about these 4 apes now.

Well, y'know, MOST things aren't as bad as the death of four million people, if that's where we're setting the I-give-a-shit bar.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:06 PM on July 26, 2007


I'm not saying I don't care about the gorillas. I do care. Just not very much.

To me many of the reactions in this thread are akin to people caring about the poor animals in the zoo killed after San Diego being nuked. The gorillas are just collateral in this huge human tragedy that people largely doesn't give a shit about.

What do I do about it? Well I sit charming jazz cafes and say stuff like "Outrageous!" and "We should really do something to ease the suffering in Africa." to some pol.sci. chick I want to fuck. Thats about all I do. Then I usually go and order another beer.

I don't want the gorillas to die but at the rate were going they are dead already. Thats why I'm not surprised and outraged at all by news like these. I don't even feel I have the right to be outraged since I've done nothing to prevent shit like this in the first place.
posted by uandt at 12:10 PM on July 26, 2007


College sophomore doesn't care about stuff. Film at 11.
posted by Mister_A at 12:13 PM on July 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


Studying apes gives us a lot of clues about the human condition, since we and they evolved from a common ancestor not too long ago. Ape populations are in dramatic decline. The great apes (chimps, gorillas, orangutans, baboons) may all be extinct in the wild within 20 years. Oh, and the ones in captivity are pretty much all mentally ill because of it.
posted by neuron at 12:38 PM on July 26, 2007


As large primates go, I find the average gorilla far more likable than the average human.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:07 PM on July 26, 2007


Also far more likely to literally rip your arms off and club you to death with them. That's why I'm an orangutan man.
posted by Mister_A at 3:00 PM on July 26, 2007


i remember hearing about a white rhino being shot, in the ngorongoro crater, whilst i was working nearby. a warden did it in a dispute about pay.

if you want long term survival of the Virunga gorillas, then you must work on human development and political stability in the region. Otherwise they, like much of the wildlife will be food for passing militias or a trophy for someone with corrupt connections.

without this the gorillas and humans are in danger of extinction.

whilst being a conservationist, i do find something disturbing about the interest, passion and compassion many people feel for monkeys, whilst remaining considerably less moved by the massive human tragedy's playing out in the region.

i've even heard people arguing that the wars in the region were a good thing as they would leave fewer people alive to threaten the monkey forests.
posted by quarsan at 3:09 PM on July 26, 2007


I haven't clubbed anyone to death with their own arms in at least three weeks, thanks very much.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 3:17 PM on July 26, 2007


why care? well, for openers, perhaps because not only are they a part of our earth, and, as noted, very close to us in evolutionary terms, but they are being killed off...why bother with saving whales? they can be fished, killed, and eliminated too. Why bother with preserving wilderness areas in Alaska (or anywhere)? Why concern ourselves with our environment at all, as a matter of fact. We are but another species that may also die off. But in our case, it may be self-induced elimination. But then, why worry about that either? I have my social security and am using it up. Apres moi etc etc What, Me Worry?
posted by Postroad at 4:16 PM on July 26, 2007


Wrong turn Clyde.
posted by isopraxis at 8:13 PM on July 26, 2007


I think if you've been shot dead you qualify as being in a little bit more in trouble than endangered.
posted by biffa at 2:17 AM on July 27, 2007


I haven't clubbed anyone to death with their own arms in at least three weeks, thanks very much.

Well, you are a dormant gorilla.
posted by Mister_A at 8:53 AM on July 27, 2007


after San Diego being nuked

WHAT?!

[nervously types "San Diego nuked" into Google]

...whew!
posted by humannaire at 5:33 PM on July 27, 2007


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