Friday, November 30, 2007


The journey was due to take 18 hours
The gorillas in a zoo
Four rare gorillas have been flown from South Africa to Cameroon, five years after they were illegally smuggled to Taiping Zoo in Malaysia.
The Malaysian authorities returned the four Western Lowland gorillas to South Africa in 2004 and they have since been kept at Pretoria Zoo.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare said the "Taiping Four" will now be taken to a wildlife sanctuary.
The male and three females were sedated before being put into giant crates.
The BBC's Francis Ngwa Niba says Cameroon's environment minister, along with a host of well-wishers, were at Doula International Airport to receive the gorillas.
"The return of the gorillas to Cameroon is a manifestation of Cameroon's commitment to... the conservation of nature," Elvis Ngole Ngole said.
Tinu, Izan, Oyin and Abbey, all six years old and weighing about 100kg each, are to be transported to the Limbe Wildlife Sanctuary in south-west Cameroon.
The vet who travelled with the animals said the journey had taken 18 hours from Johannesburg, which included a six-hour stopover in Nairobi, Kenya.

Enlarge Image
"These animals are doing pretty well," he told the BBC after the crates were loaded off the Kenyan Airways aeroplane.
"The break in Nairobi gave us an opportunity to feed them and care for them, so they were adequately rested," he said.
Ifaw's Christina Pretorious said the return of the Taiping Four sends a clear message that Africa wildlife is worth fighting for and that international law must be upheld.
"Africa's wildlife is disappearing from the earth right in front of our eyes," she told the AFP news agency.
Our correspondent says another welcome ceremony is planned for the gorillas in Limbe on Saturday, when people will be able to see the gorillas for themselves.
There are believed to be fewer than 100,000 Western Lowland gorillas in the wild. Their status was recently upgraded to critically endangered.
Gorillas and other primates are often hunted to be eaten in Cameroon and neighbouring countries.



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