Endangered Mountain Gorillas' Safety Signals Optimism In Congo

04/04/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Violence near Congo's Virunga National Park has subsided, allowing residents and rangers to return to the area. The military conflict there has threatened countless human lives and, the New York Times reports, 200 of the last 700 mountain gorillas on Earth. When the rangers were first allowed to return to the park, there was hope. Now, it seems, the region is in for extended calm.

But they're not out of the woods yet, so to speak:

People here remember all too well the Sun City peace treaty reached in South Africa in 2002, which was supposed to rein in marauding militias but did not.

They recall the democratic elections in 2006, which cost more than $500 million and raised hopes but did not end the war.

And they remember the countless cease-fires and conferences at fancy hotels that spelled more fighting even before the delegates jetted home.

The Times features video of the rangers returning to check in on the gorillas. Can these gorillas be an indicator species of peace?

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