One Dead, 14 Wounded In Clash Near DR Congo Gorilla Sanctuary

 

 

One person was killed and 14 were injured in clashes near a gorilla sanctuary in DR Congo where there has been mounting friction between park guards and local Pygmies, sources said Friday.

The violence occurred near the Kahuzi Biega National Park, a UNESCO heritage site in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that is a haven for the world’s largest gorilla species.

“A conservation patrol which was pursuing two poachers was ambushed on Wednesday by Pygmies armed with machetes and bows and arrows,” park spokesman Hubert Mulongoy said.

“Thirteen park wardens were wounded in the clash, three of them seriously,” he said. “One of the seriously injured had his fingers severed by a machete.”

Separately, Ntavuna Cizungu, a representative of a Pygmy community that lives on the edge of the park, told AFP that a Pygmy named lwaboshi Simba was shot dead during the confrontation “and died immediately.”

Another Pygmy was injured, he said.

Mulongoy said there had been a “resurgence of tension in the past few days between indigenous people and the park.”

In April, a warden was killed in a clash, the park said, denying that this episode was associated with the death of a Pygmy the previous day.

The Pygmies are angry about being denied access to Kahuzi Biega.

The park says they illegally entered the sanctuary between August and October last year, and have been carrying out acts of “deforestation” since then.

The park wardens are chiefly recruited among former soldiers and police and include a number of Pygmies.

Kahuzi Biega, named after two extinct volcanoes, is the only place in the world where visitors can see eastern lowland gorillas in the wild, the park says on its website.

The 6,000-square-kilometre (2,300-square-mile) haven, created in 1970, is a magnet for well-heeled tourists, providing an important source of revenue for the DRC.

AFP

Ganduje Gives Details Of N6.8m Allegedly Swallowed By Gorilla In Kano Zoo

 

Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje has revealed that the missing N6.8 Million missing in a zoo in Kano was not swallowed by a Gorilla as widely reported.

Mr Ganduje who spoke to journalists shortly after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said that investigations are still ongoing and preliminary reports so far reveal that it was an armed robbery attack where a whole safe was carted away.

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He added that upon conclusion of the investigations, reasons, why the money was kept in a zoo in the first instance, will be revealed, insisting that something went wrong.

On the issue of investigations into the Kano Emirates funds, he said that discussions are still ongoing to resolve issues with the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II.

Man survives mauling by tiger in Bronx zoo, charged for misdemeanour trespassing

A New York man named David Villalobos endangered his life in his quest to be one with nature’s pets when he decided to come one on one with a tiger in the Bronx zoo. Luckily for him, rescue came just 10 minutes after he flew into the cage of the male Siberian but not without severe injuries and broken bones.

Police said that Villalobos had told detectives that it was without fear that he leaped from an elevated train into the animal’s den. His reason, they said, was that “he wanted to be one with the tiger.”

Villalobos also recounted how, after he landed on all fours, the 400-pound (18-kilogram) beast attacked him and dragged around by his foot, said New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne.

Despite serious injuries, he claimed he was able to get his wish and pet the tiger — a male Siberian named Bashuta — before his rescue, the spokesman said.

Based on those admissions and a complaint from the zoo, police charged the hospitalised Villalobos with misdemeanour trespassing on yesterday. It was unclear if the 25-year-old real estate agent had an attorney, and attempts to reach relatives were unsuccessful.

Police had said earlier that Villalobos admitted to a police officer at the scene that he made a conscious decision to jump — “Everyone has a reason for what they do in life,” he was quoted as saying — but that his motives were murky and an arrest uncertain.

That changed when, during a follow-up interview, Villalobos told detectives that “his leap was definitely not a suicide attempt, but a desire to be one with the tiger,” Browne said.

Browne said Villalobos was charged because he had gone “beyond a perimeter security fence and an electrified wire designed to keep the public out and the tiger in.”

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly described Villalobos’ actions as “foolish,” in part because they put zoo personnel “in harm’s way.”

Villalobos remained hospitalised with bites and punctures on his arms, legs, shoulders and back, as well as a broken right shoulder, right rib, right ankle and pelvis and a collapsed lung. Police said there was no indication he was intoxicated.

The Wild Asia exhibit that’s home to the tiger was operating as usual on Saturday, zoo officials said, declining to comment further.

Villalobos’ Facebook page makes clear his infatuation with wildlife. One of several postings from Thursday was a photo of a tiger licking a cub, and the comment, “Nice.” Another was of a black jaguar.

An earlier post displayed a promo for a movie called “Facing Animals,” a Dutch documentary about “the complex and often bizarre relationship between man and animal.”

His comment: “This looks fascinating.”

 

Villalobos’ own bizarre encounter began with a ride on the elevated train that takes unrestrained visitors over the Bronx River and through a forest, where they glide along the top edge of a fence past elephants, deer and a tiger enclosure. He and a date had taken in the same sights from the monorail during a visit to the zoo about two weeks ago, police said Saturday.

This time without warning, Villalobos apparently jumped out of his train car and cleared the 16-foot-high perimeter fence. He was alone with Bashuta for about 10 minutes before he was rescued by zoo officials, who used a fire extinguisher to chase the animal away.

The zookeepers instructed him to roll under an electrified wire to get to safety, zoo director Jim Breheny said. They then called the tiger into a holding area.

The Bronx Zoo, one of the nation’s largest zoos, sprawls over 265 acres and contains hundreds of animals, many in habitats meant to resemble natural settings. Its exhibits include Tiger Mountain, Congo Gorilla Forest and World of Reptiles.

There are 10 tigers at the Wild Asia exhibit, but the 11-year-old Bashuta was the only one on display at the time. Zoo officials said he would remain in the rotation.

“When someone is determined to do something harmful to themselves, it’s very hard to stop that,” said Breheny. “The tiger did nothing wrong.”