The death of a baby mountain gorilla has prompted Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo to launch joint anti-poaching patrols to protect the endangered species, an official said Wednesday.
Prosper Uwingeli, a conservationist in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park, which abuts the Virunga National Park in DR Congo, said the patrols were launched March 12 and had already destroyed several poaching traps.
Baby gorillas frequently fall victim to traps, even if they are not the species being hunted.
"These joint patrols were agreed upon following the death in a trap of a baby gorilla in February," Uwingeli said.
Mountain gorilla populations have been decimated by conflict and poaching. The creatures were famously brought to the world's attention by the late Dian Fossey, and are one of the region's main tourist attractions and foreign currency earners.
Rwanda charges $750 to foreign tourists for a permit to visit the primates.
Only about 700 mountain gorillas survive in the wild, with half of them concentrated in the Virunga massif that straddles the border between Rwanda, DR Congo and Uganda.
The critically endangered species is also found at a second location in Uganda, in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.© ANP/AFP