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YoG STATEMENT “I think there is still hope”

Dr. Inogwabini Bila Isia Congolese conservationist, WWF DRC

I have been working in conservation since 1993 and started with the conservation of gorillas in Eastern DRC. I went to Kahuzi- Biega in 1993 to do the Eastern Lowland Gorilla Survey, and it was at that time that I got in touch with gorillas, which I ended up finding among the best excuses to study, because they are so powerful, but at the same time they are so peaceful. Since then I have been working on gorillas across their range, from DRC all the way to Gabon and the species is among the charismatic spe- cies for conservation. The reason is that – besides the fact that they are among our sisters in their genetic lineage – they are a species that does play a great role in their environment, because they do

disperse seeds and they do maintain their environment. Back in 1993, when we worked with gorillas, we found that there were at least 14,000 gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega and adjacent forest, but then came the disaster, so now we don’t even know how many are left in the wild. We know that they have been declining because of the war in the Eastern DRC. So my hope is that the UN Year of the Gorilla will serve as a beginning of … an option for people to try to save those gorillas that I have worked on back in 1993. Even though they have decreased, I think there is still hope. If we can put a lot of effort, if we put a little bit of will among the international community I think gorillas can recover.

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