Aug. 6, 2007 issue - On July 23, rangers at Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of the Congo made a gruesome discovery. Four endangered mountain gorillas had been slaughtered, for reasons unknown, leaving two infants orphaned. The killings are signficant because the world wide population of mountain gorillas only numbers around 700.
Richard Leakey is the founder of Wildlife Direct, a European Union-funded conservation organization based in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), works to protect the apes in Virunga park. A renowned paleontologist, Leakey’s tough antipoaching measures are credited with putting an end to the elephant slaughter in Kenya in the 1980s. He spoke by phone from Kenya to NEWSWEEK’s Scott Johnson about the recent slaughter of some of the endangered animals, the threat posed by the charcoal industry and what the international community needs to do next.