Thursday 26th September 2019
The Aspinall Foundation are saddened to announce the death of Kuimba, a female gorilla from Beauval Zoo Parc in France who, along with a female companion named Mayombe, travelled from France to Gabon as part of a conservation project designed to reintroduce western lowland gorillas to the protected forests of the Batéké Plateau.
The two females had been adjusting to life in the wild, on a protected island in the Reserve since June 2019 as part of the initial pre-release process. Daily observations by camera traps and The Aspinall Foundation’s expert in situ team, showed both females to be in good health and eating well.
Kuimba was discovered by the monitoring team earlier this week, a few hours after death and the cause is currently unknown. The Aspinall Foundation organised a vet to carry out a post-mortem examination and the results are expected shortly.
Kuimba’s companion, Mayombe is being closely monitored and the team report that she is eating well and appears in good health.
The Aspinall Foundation is a UK-based charity with a focus on wildlife conservation through reintroduction and habitat protection. The charity has been working in Gabon and neighbouring Congo for over 30 years, fighting the illegal wildlife trade and reintroducing wild-born and captive-born gorillas to protected forests of the Batéké Plateau in both countries.
Over 70 gorillas have been released during the programme, and whilst the process is never risk-free, post-release survival rates have been shown to be similar to those of wild gorillas, and over 35 births have so far been reported to the released gorillas.
Population models have demonstrated that the reintroduced populations are well-established and should persist for years to come provided they are protected from poaching and habitat destruction, but also that additional releases will improve their genetic diversity and long-term viability.
The Aspinall Foundation is committed to returning more gorillas to the Batéké Plateau, in collaboration with the Western Lowland Gorilla EEP of EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria).
The conservation charity will continue to partner with other organisations and wild animal parks around the world to ensure that captive-bred animals can be successfully returned to protected areas of the wild.