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Dec 24

Behind the scenes at the world’s only mountain gorilla orphanage

virungaNP_620Just in time for Christmas, the vEco team is delighted to bring you this three-panorama virtual tour of the world’s only mountain gorilla orphanage, the Senkwekwe Center located at the headquarters of the Virunga National Park in Rumangabo, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The locations in this tour just happen to be featured at the core of the newly released Oscar-nominated documentary, VIRUNGA. In fact, when our vEco Ambassador, Ian Redmond OBE, recorded the images and videos for this tour the crew for that film were also at the center, and this tour captures the moments just before and during the evacuation (captured on video for this tour) of all expatriates that preceded the approach of the M23 rebel group that set off the dramatic events of VIRUNGA. The tour also features an interview with André Bauma, one of the many park rangers that risked their lives to continue caring for their gorilla charges in spite of civil war, refugee displacements, and armed poachers in addition to marauding rebels, charcoal makers, and illegal oil prospecting. These courageous individuals put their lives on the line every day when they turn up for work, knowing that more than 130 of their colleagues have been killed in action in the past decade. With the release of VIRUNGA, the whole world can marvel at their dedication and their conviction that the future of the Eastern DRC depends on protecting the park as the basis for sustainable development in the surrounding communities.

As you proceed through this vEcotour, you’ll visit the orphans’ night quarters, explore their outdoor habitat, take note of some of their unique behaviours, watch the gorillas roughhouse with their keepers, and learn some of the finer points of persuading gorillas to move from one area of the center to another. You’ll also visit the Humba group, a mature mountain gorilla family that lives nearby, and observe these gentle giants in their natural environment. While you’ll there, you’ll also get a behind-the-lens look at the creation of another feature film, The Last of the Great Apes, and learn about the challenges of filming in 3D in mountain gorilla habitat from the Visionquest film crew.

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