the bullet ridden bodies of a silver back alpha male and three females were discovered and removed from the virunga national park in the eastern congo by rangers working with wildlife direct. one female was pregnant, and the other two had babies who, unable to be found, most likely later died from stress and dehydration.
the murders are the suspected result of clashes between conservationists and the illegal charcoal industry who rely on the park’s hardwood to make and sell coal fuel. over 100 park rangers have been killed protecting the gorillas, one of the world’s most endangered species (there are only 700 left).
andre, an iccn ranger pictured bellow, is a self described gorilla mother, caring for four gorillas orphaned after their families were killed under similar circumstances. despite having a family of his own, andre lives with the gorillas 24/7, describing them as his own children; his own kids refer to the gorillas as their brothers and sisters.
photos by and pharaphrased text from brent stirton here and here