First batch of gorillas reach nature reserve in DR Congo after UN

29 April 2010United Nations peacekeepers in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have airlifted four endangered gorillas to a safer habitat to keep them from being illegally trafficked or eaten before they are released back into the wild. “The hope is that the gorillas will bond into a unit strong enough to survive and multiply in the wild,” the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) said today in a press release.Three young females (Mapendo, Amani and Ndjingala) and a male named Kighoma – all eastern lowland gorillas – flew by helicopter for 50 minutes on Tuesday with veterinarians and other caregivers from Goma to a village near the heavily forested Tanya Nature Reserve in north Kivu province.The decision to move the gorillas by air was made after scientists said ground transportation would be too difficult and traumatic.The four gorillas, victims of illegal trafficking in wildlife and bushmeat, will be joined in early June by six adolescent orphans flown by MONUC from Rwanda.The requests for the transports were made by the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, which along with other conservation supporters has established the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE) in the village of Kasugho, the gorillas’ temporary new home before they are released into the wild.Gorillas may disappear from large parts of the Greater Congo Basin by the mid-2020s unless urgent action is taken to safeguard habitats and counter poaching, according to a report released last month by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and INTERPOL.The Last Stand of the Gorilla – Environmental Crime and Conflict in the Congo Basin blamed violence between militias in the eastern part of the DRC involved in lucrative illegal natural resource trade for accelerating the possible demise of the gorillas.“Caring for the Earth we all share is not just the job of governments. It requires us to reach across boundaries and do things we would not normally expect to do,” Alan Doss, head of MONUC, had said about his decision to approve air transport for the gorillas. read more

Hamilton salt supply shaken

(Update)With the storm approaching maintenance crews should be out preparing roads and sidewalks. But a salt shortage in some areas, including Hamilton is making it extremely difficult to get everywhere that needs to be clear, cleared.The City of Hamilton gets its ice salt from Cleveland. But now that the great lakes are frozen, they can’t ship in extra supplies. That means the city will focus on salting priority roads. meanwhile, private businesses are having a difficult time getting their hands on any salt.The lineup for salt at Outdoor Supplies and Equipment on Nebo Road Tuesday morning was about a half a kilometre long. But with only one load of salt to go around, the supply quickly ran out.Owner Rick McDowell says not only has the supply depleted. It’s doubled in price: “Keeping everyone to a 2 tonne maximum. There are just too many people out there who want to buy the whole load. You just can’t do it. In December, we were $110 a year. Which is roughly a tonne. Now it’s $220.”At 5am, Paul Klingender of Klink and Son Lawn Maintenance was fifth in line for salt. He received about one and a half tonnes. He needed three times that amount: “I’ve never been in this situation before because salt has always been a readily available commodity. But this year, being the winter that we’ve had, I’m scrambling for salt. Maybe one day I do half the customers or a third of the customers and the next day I do another third and so on and so fourth. I have no choice.”Later in the day outdoor supplies received a surprise shipment of salt. And once again, McDowell will have to ration: “With the storm coming the company says ideally they’d have 250 metric tonnes of salt. Right now they have 36 and that’s expected to sell in under an hour.”Klingender says Canadian mines forecast the amount they’ll need for the season and stockpile accordingly. He says this year, they ran out of salt by the middle of January: “They have an obligation to the municipalities and the province for the highways ”Leaving small businesses to do whatever they can to get their hands on this now hot commodity. And while businesses in the GTHA are having a hard time finding salt. The Regional Municipality of Niagara says so far, it has enough. It brought in an extra shipment before the lakes froze. How long it will last will depend on how long this weather goes on for. read more