Kenya’s gorillas are suffering as a result of the UN’s plan to relocate the endangered primates to forest reserves in the south-east African country, where they would be protected from hunting and other forms of exploitation.
In a bid to save the gorillas’ lives, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has put in place the largest relocation project in its history.
The plan was put into place by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the African Union, which hopes to relocate a population of around 5,000 gorillas from the forests in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and surrounding regions.
A team of experts has already completed a 2,000km journey from Kinshasa, capital of the DRC, to Mandera, the capital of neighboring Uganda.
KWS officials say that the project is not a race against time.
But it has been a harrowing one, with some families having to travel hundreds of kilometres, sometimes for months, to reach the forest reserves, which they have to cross at dangerous and dangerous times.
Families have to walk over the sheer jungle to reach a reserve where they are told they must be accompanied by three other gorillas and that if they leave, the gorillas will be killed.
The first family to reach their destination was a mother and her two sons.
They had just returned from the forest reserve when they were abducted and kept for a month.
After the rescue, they had to stay at the wildlife sanctuary in the nearby town of Manderha for several months.
They then had to travel further afield for the rest of the time until they finally reached a sanctuary in Tanzania.
The families of these children were left with no option but to return, with no way to contact their mother or siblings, said a spokesperson for the Manderas Conservation Trust, a conservation organisation that supports the children’s conservation.
The two gorillas were later reunited with their mother and two other boys, who are now eight and five.
The children were given a safe passage through Tanzania before they were relocated to the forest refuge in Kenya.
“When the children first arrived, they were separated from their mother for two weeks, during which time they were kept at a sanctuary.
They were given water, food and a bed, and they had the chance to see and touch the gorilla,” said David Kudanjia, a spokesperson with the Mardena Conservation Trust.
“After the time we spent together, they all came back to Mardenah, and we were able to take them to the sanctuary where they were welcomed and cared for,” he added.
The sanctuary where the children were reunited with the mother and other gorillos was also the home of another group of gorillas that was kidnapped and held captive for more than a year.
“We were able take them back to the Marda Wildlife Sanctuary in Kenya where they can be rehabilitated,” said Kudas spokesman.
But the group of four gorillas has since been released.
A spokesperson for UNEP, the agency that runs the program, said that the gorills are now safe in the Mare Kenda Wildlife Sanctuary, a park located at the base of Mount Mare, about 1,300km from KWS’s Manderah base.
The park is located in the foothills of the Mwangi Mountain range, which is a major wildlife hotspot in the region.
“The Mwangis are protected under the Wildlife Act of 1973 and we have worked closely with the Kenyan government to ensure that the animals have access to all available services,” the spokesperson said.
The gorilla group that escaped the forest was last seen by a ranger in December, after which it was recaptured by the Kenya Parks and Wildlife Service.
It was eventually rescued by the team of conservationists who were also working with the gorillo group.
In the meantime, the mother, two boys and four gorillys are currently being cared for at the sanctuary.
Kenya has been one of the worst affected by the recent outbreak of the disease, with nearly 1,000 people dead and 1,500 others hospitalized.
The deaths of the gorilling gorillas, along with the deaths of about 300 elephants, rhinos, lions and other large animals have further affected the environment.
Kudans mother, father and two of the children have been rescued.
The other gorilla is currently being monitored and cared at a conservation centre in Uganda.
The Kenyan government is trying to raise awareness of the epidemic in order to convince the population to stay away from the area, as well as encouraging the international community to protect the gorilled animals from poaching.
The KWS said that they will continue to support the rehabilitation of the remaining gorilla population in Kenya, while also continuing to work with the local community to ensure their safe return to their ancestral habitat.
“As long as