SOUTH AFRICA

Wednesday 15 September 1999

About 100 of the world's remaining mountain gorillas have been killed as a result of the protracted civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, say conservationists. Poachers have slaughtered the gorillas for meat in the Kahusi Beiga National Park near the Rwandan border. The forest director says that the guides in the park could not stop the killing as their guns and uniforms had been stolen. The park had 272 mountain gorillas when it was created in 1970.

"We cannot say exactly how many remain but one thing is for sure: there has been a carnage. Sometimes we find only the carcasses, the skulls. We have found local villagers cooking chunks of gorilla meat for food," the forest director added.

The director also said many other animals in the reserve have been slaughtered by poachers in the last three years, including thousands of antelopes and at least 300 of the 350 elephants in the area.

Over a bad three-week period, at least 21 lions were killed after they escaped from the country's famed Kruger National Park, a park official said recently. Wildlife experts said the unusually large escapees was possibly attributed to an increase in the lion population.

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