The New York Times recently reported that it is now predicted that the so-called, “Grauer’s Gorilla” may soon be extinct as a result of their slaughter at the hands of humans. This is dreadful news for a number of reasons. The first of which being that our planet may soon be devoid of a magnificent creature. There has been a precipitous drop in this gorilla population – 77% in 20 years – leading to merely 3800 survivors at the current time. Their ultimate disappearance will be due entirely to the human propensity for violence. It seems that their fate is directly linked to political and economic instability in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
These innocent creatures are being killed primarily for food by rebels residing in the deep jungles of the Congo. Their presence in this environment appears to be connected to the attempted genocide of the Tutsi people in Rwanda in 1994. An estimated 800,000 individuals were killed at that time and many potential victims fled to neighboring Zaire. Many of those who fled formed into armed militias and chaos quickly spread to the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is estimated that the ensuing violence has led to the death of over 5 million people over the intervening years.
It would be easy to conclude that this disturbing reality is not our fault and not our problem. After all, we know who the perpetrators are. However, it is not quite that facile an argument. This should not be thought of as an isolated event. It is, after all, human behavior that is responsible – desperate circumstances invariably lead to desperate measures. All of humanity should be deeply disturbed by this news. For it is an indicator on the state of existence of mankind and the degree to which we have come to regard violence as normal and the degradation of the natural environment as essentially unavoidable.