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Video: The last mountain gorillas, and their protectors

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There are about 720 mountain gorillas left in the world. Two hundred and eleven of them live in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. (The others are in Rwanda and Uganda.)

The job of protecting them falls to the Congolese Wildlife Authority, and a tough, dangerous job it is. More than 120 of the authority's rangers in Virunga National Park have been killed in the past 10 years, writes staff reporter Matthew Clark in a fascinating article in the May 17 issue of the Monitor's new print weekly.

Among the ever-present threats, he writes: "Militias hide out in the park’s dense foliage, looting nearby villages, pillaging gold mines, and controlling the multimillion-dollar trade in charcoal made by peasants who chop down virgin forest in the park."

It's hard to imagine why anyone would want a job like that. The answer is simple, says Innocent Mburanumwe, the ranger in charge of gorilla monitoring for the wildlife authority: "... we choose to protect nature. That’s our job. The gorillas are rare. I don’t want them to disappear like the dinosaurs.”

Mountain gorillas definitely have a friend and strong protector in Mr. Mburanumwe, as shown in the video accompanying this post. It was shot by Monitor staff photographer Mary Knox Merrill.

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