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Baby gorilla rescue sheds light on trafficking problem

When a baby gorilla was rescued from traffickers in the Democratic Republic of Congo recently, it put a spotlight on the growing issue of the illegal baby gorilla market there, MSNBC reports.

The gorilla, the fourth rescued since April, was being sold by poachers for $40,000, the news source reports. The Congolese Wildlife Authority said in a statement that this year marks the "highest number of baby gorillas confiscated from poachers in a single year on record."

About one to two baby gorillas are saved per year from the illegal trade that is thought to supply the animals to foreign zoos or wealthy people who keep exotic pets.

"If four have been caught since April, the question is how many have been missed?" LuAnne Cadd, spokesperson for the Congo's Virguna National Park, said in an email to the Mother Nature Network. "How many more are being captured and sold?"

Virunga is is the oldest national park in Africa, and is home to mountain gorillas, lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, elephants and buffalo. Park warden Emmanuel de Merode said that the park is particularly worried about the gorilla trafficking happening in areas controlled by rebels, who have been battling the government throughout the nation's 12-year civil war. 
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