2008 Photo Contest, Contemporary Issues, 1st prize

Brent Stirton

Reportage by Getty Images for Newsweek

01 January, 2007

Conservation rangers evacuate the bodies of four mountain gorillas found shot in the forest.

The highly endangered gorillas live in an area beset with conflict. Rebel leaders in the region maintain that the Congolese government is collaborating with the Hutu-led FDLR (Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda), which was accused of involvement in the 1994 genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda. Rebel militia have entered the national park in pursuit of FDLR fighters who they say are hiding there.

It is not always clear who is attacking the gorillas, but a number have been killed in ways that parallel human executions during the Rwandan genocide. Some are eaten as bush-meat. The gorillas' habitat is also being destroyed as both militia and illegal charcoal-makers are cutting down trees. There are an estimated 700 mountain gorillas remaining worldwide. More than half of these live in Virunga, where at least nine were killed during 2007. Rangers trying to protect gorillas have also come under attack.

About the photographer

Brent Stirton

Brent Stirton is a special correspondent for Getty Images, and a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine as well as other international titles.  He speci...

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