Mountain gorillas, oil, civil war, and human compassion

Please WATCH THIS incredibly moving 8-minute documentary: Gorillas in the Crossfire by Orlando von Einsiedel, with funding from the Britdoc Foundation. It documents the remarkable dedication of park guards at the Virunga National Park, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. This region is home to mountain gorillas – a taxon nearing extinction. In spite of a civil war that has claimed 5-10 million people (assessments vary widely), mineral resource exploitation, Big Oil, a voracious bushmeat market, and the death of 140 park guards (who died protecting the gorillas), people in DRC continue to work on behalf of park and its remarkable primate inhabitants.

From the New York Times Opinion Pages:

“This Op-Doc video profiles Andre Bauma, who takes care of the orphaned mountain gorillas of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In two decades of civil war, more than 140 of his fellow rangers have been killed while protecting their park, which has been home to armed rebels. They risk their lives for Virunga’s gorillas not only because they believe it is right, but because they know that the forest and its animals are the key to the region’s stability. The threats facing the park are tremendously complicated. Dueling military forces, who have been fighting in the surrounding areas, and sometimes within the park, have used Virunga as their pawn. An oil company, SOCO International, has searched for oil in the park. Violence, poaching and human encroachment have pushed the gorillas to the edge of extinction. Accordingly, the logistics of filming this documentary were daunting: We were working in an active conflict zone with an ever-shifting front line, managing the opposition of a major oil company and its arsenal of lawyers, and of course trying to keep our equipment from being carried away by a crew of curious mountain gorillas.”   Orlando von Einsiedel, New York Times, Opinion Pages, 7 November 2014.

 

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