Gorilla 'did not die from Ebola'

2009-04-08 18:02

Bukavu - Wild life curators in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo sought on Wednesday to dispel local claims that a 40-year-old gorilla had died from the Ebola virus.

Radar Nishull, conservationist in the Kahuza-Biego national park, said the gorilla, named Mufanzala and the head of a family of 18, died from an abscess in the liver, "not from the Ebola virus, contrary to rumours".

He added that conservation experts at the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project had been asked to perform an autopsy.

The deadly Ebola virus is present in the Congo and can be transmitted by primates, especially when their meat - considered a delicacy - is eaten.

There are about 130 eastern lowland gorillas living in the high-altitude park in eastern Sud-Kivu province, an area long beset by rebel conflict.

Like the mountain gorillas they are a protected species, numbering some 12 000 across the country.

Normally, gorillas live to between 45 and 60.

Their gene pool is 98% identical to humans.