Sanctuaries in Africa are crucial in the war against the illegal trafficking of wild animals. In areas without these centers there is little to no motivation for officials to step in when animals illegally are kept or trafficked. The high rate in which apes are coming into sanctuaries indicates that illegal trafficking is an enormous problem. Confiscated apes are used as proof of smuggling against poachers. Rescue centers also help authorities, police and customs with further prosecution of these traffickers.
Especially in conflict areas, where there’s no government control, sanctuaries are imperative. One of these centers, the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE) is in the heart of conflict area in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is the only sanctuary for the endangered Grauer’s gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri) with potential for rehabilitation of these gorillas in the wild. The Dutch Gorilla Foundation will structurally support this important center.
The Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center is founded in 2009. Its purpose is to facilitate, as best as possible, the care for confiscated Grauer’s gorillas in the Democratic Republic Congo. The location for the center is chosen strategically in the natural habitat of these gorillas. This makes it easier to introduce gorillas back into the wild. Because of the unique way locals look at conservation, the project is warmly welcomed. These local communities embraced nature conservation projects before. Examples of previous successful projects are a conservation minded radio station and a hydro-electricity project. And there is also a center, the Tayna Center for Conservation Biology, the TCCB, to educate future Congolese nature conservationists.
How does the Dutch Gorilla Foundation support the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center? Together with GRACE we have initiated a unique adoption program. You can adopt an orphaned Grauer’s gorilla that has found its safe haven with GRACE. Each gorilla in this rescue center was confiscated from poachers. At GRACE the gorillas learn to find their own place in the group, social behavior and are reintroduced to their natural habitat. There might even be a possibility that the gorilla will be released back into the wild someday. GRACE truly offers gorillas a chance to a future! With the funds from the adoption program GRACE can run the rescue center and give the gorillas the care they need. Want to get to know the gorillas in our adoption program? We hope to welcome you as a guardian of one of them!