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Gorillas surviving warzone

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  • Census of mountain gorillas in DR Congo doing well despite war, poaching
  • So far, 75 gorillas found which are accustomed to human contact
  • That's three more than last census and conservationists hope to identify more
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By Joe Sterling
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(CNN) -- The mountain gorillas in a national park in Congo appear to be hanging on well despite such dangers as civil warfare and poaching, according to an ongoing census.

Park rangers conducting the census in November.

Park rangers conducting the census in November.

Workers have identified 75 "habituated" gorillas in Virunga National Park, three more than there were in the last census nearly a year and a half ago, said Samantha Newport, the park communications director.

Habituated gorillas are those who are accustomed to contact with humans. They are easier to spot than non-habituated gorillas, thought to number around 120.

Newport said the census should be completed by around January 20 and officials hope that more habituated gorillas will be identified.

She said the fact that gorillas have survived amid civil war in the region is "nothing short of a miracle."

Laurent Nkunda's Tutsi armed force that had been fighting Congolese soldiers and their militia allies has had control of large swaths of the 8,000 square-kilometer park.

The gorilla section is in a strategically important area near the borders of Rwanda and Uganda.

Officials have long said that the 250-square kilometer gorilla reserve in the southern part of Virunga National Park is where around 200 of the world's 700 mountain gorillas live.

All About Democratic Republic of the CongoNature and the EnvironmentWildlife

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