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“Virunga” Exposes Heroes & Villains in Fight to Protect Last Mountain Gorillas

October 6, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

In 1985, Dian Fossey, the researcher and conservationist profiled in the movie Gorillas in the Mist, was murdered in her attempt to protect mountain gorillas from those who wanted to capture them. Today, the 800 remaining mountain gorillas in East Africa are under attack by far more powerful forces, who are exposed in a new documentary film called Virunga.

Mountain gorillas live in the Virunga mountains of Rwanda, Uganda and the politically unstable Democratic Republic of Congo. Virunga, a documentary thriller, chronicles the efforts to protect Congo’s Virunga National Park and its majestic gorillas from civil war and from corporations eager to strip the park of its valuable natural resources.

Virunga National Park, Congo

Park Ranger, Virunga National Park

In the film, we meet “a Belgian conservationist leading the army of park rangers; an ex-child soldier and a young French journalist who covertly films local politicians and international businessmen; and a ranger who has become a surrogate parent to orphaned gorillas.”

Because tourists are willing to spend hundreds of dollars a day to see them, the gorillas themselves are a valuable renewable resource for the people who live around the Virungas. But can the long term benefits of eco-tourism compete with the short term greed of those who are willing to decimate the park to make a quick buck?

Gorilla Eco-Tourism in East Africa

Gorilla Eco-Tourism in East Africa

On Friday, October 10th, the documentary will receive the Zelda Penzel “Giving Voice to the Voiceless” Award at its premiere in Sag Harbor, at the Hamptons International Film Festival. Penzel, an educator and veteran animal rights activist based in the U.S., has decided to put her money where her heart is by endowing the festival with an annual monetary award presented to a film that “raises public awareness about the moral and ethical treatment and the rights of animals; inspires compassion; and compels social change.”

Your Turn

To find out how you can lend your voice to the gorillas, please see the website for Virunga.

Comments via Facebook Comments

  1. I applaud this film about the precious dynamic gorillas in Virunga. The murder of the gorillas should be outlawed in Virunga & everywhere else.The savage killing of these extraordinary gorillas should be declared a major crime with the perpetrators in jail. They should be treated like the national living treasures they are! Education about gorillas & full protection to the gorillas should be encouraged & practiced. We should have more films like this shown all over NYC & the nation. They must have full protection & the best benevolent treatment ever! I hope this film wins many awards. Naomi Semeniuk

  2. Analisa says:

    This is so amazing! These stories make me realize that there are many good people out there who don’t only care about money. Bravo!

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