Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mountain gorillas: casualties of war

National Geographic explores the murder of a family of mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park, which is located in war torn Congo*. And it is not just a story about the dying of an intelligent and self-aware species that is one of our closest relatives on the planet, but also about that the Congo remains a heart of darkness where the horrors of the Rwandan genocide live on in ethnic warfare, with all sides of the conflict committing grave atrocities. As the article put it, the war zone "is a Hieronymus Bosch painting come alive."

The National Geographic help page suggests ways that you can help the gorillas survive the conflict. How to end the greater human conflict in the region is another matter, but using the Human Rights Watch resource page on Congo to stay informed about the situation is better than letting the problem slide out of mind, out of sight.**

*I refuse to recognize Congo as the "Democratic Republic" of anything.
** Jeffrey Sachs argues in Common Wealth (also see here for a lecture on the subject from Sachs) that by investing in world economic development, switching to sustainable energy sources, confronting global warming, and promoting family planning we can alleviate and reduce conflicts such as those in the Congo. This article by Sachs at Project Syndicate lays out the gist of his argument.

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