02/09/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Gorilla Warfare: Primates Draw Attention To Congo Conflict

Unlike 250,000 of their human neighbours who have had to flee the latest fighting, the gorillas appear untouched so far. But they haven't escaped altogether. Aware that gorillas at times draw more global attention than the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, rebels and the Government are engaged in a kind of guerrilla war over who should control the park.

It's a struggle that bears many hallmarks of this region's conflict, including ethnic rivalry, resource exploitation and a scramble to curry international favour. When rebels seized control of the Virunga National Park's gorilla sanctuary in 2007, rangers who cared for the animals were caught in the middle. Some fled with Government troops; others stayed behind and continued doing their jobs.

After a two-hour hike, the ranger, one of those who stayed, stops suddenly and makes a throat-clearing grunt - something like a noise you would make to catch the attention of day-dreaming shop assistant.

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