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Concern for Africa’s Endangered Mountain Gorilla

In this photo taken Dec. 11 2012, a park ranger wearing a mask walks past a mountain gorilla in the Virunga National Park in eastern Congo. Congo's Virunga National Park, home to about a third of the world's mountain gorillas, has barred visitors until June 1 2020, citing "advice from scientific experts indicating that primates, including mountain gorillas, are likely susceptible to complications arising from the COVID-19 virus."(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

As the coronavirus infects more people around the world, conservationists are warning of the risk to another vulnerable species. Congo’s Virunga National Park, home to about a third of the world’s mountain gorillas, is barring visitors until June 1, citing “advice from scientific experts indicating that primates, including mountain gorillas, are likely susceptible to complications arising from the COVID-19 virus.” Neighboring Rwanda also is temporarily shutting down tourism and research activities in three national parks that are home to primates such as gorillas and chimpanzees. Mountain gorillas are prone to some respiratory illnesses that afflict humans. A common cold can kill a gorilla, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature, one reason why tourists tracking gorillas are not normally permitted to get too close. Around 1,000 mountain gorillas live in protected areas in Congo, Uganda and Rwanda, for whom tourism is an important source of revenue. But COVID-19 has led to restrictive measures. Virunga National Park’s decision has been welcomed by conservationists in the region.  

SOURCE: VOA

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