Terrified face of the trafficked gorilla: Little Shamavu found cowering in poacher's bag after his family were killed


Lucky escape: The Congolese Wildlife Authorities rescued little Shamavu earlier this month - but how many other baby gorillas are sold on the black market?

With fearful eyes and defensive body language, baby gorilla Shamavu does not realise how close he came to being sold by poachers on the black market for £25,000.

The one-and-a-half-year-old animal was rescued by the Congolese Wildlife Authorities rangers earlier this month in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Virunga national park in the latest sting operation designed to halt an upsurge in trafficking.

The illegal trading, which is threatening the existence of the already endangered species, is being stamped out - this was the fourth such incident since April - but there are still many gorillas who are not as fortunate as Shamavu.

Dr Jan Ramer, pictured, said of Shamavu: 'He appears to be quite healthy other than some parasites and dry skin.'

Never before have so many poachers been caught in one year - a figure which highlights the high risks they are willing to take in order to try and secure a pay bonanza.

According to the latest figures there are believed to be only 790 mountain gorillas left on the planet - and almost 500 of them are found in the Virunga volcanoes, a conservation area, which is spread across DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.

The other 300 or so creatures can be found in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda

Saved: The one-and-a-half-year-old baby mountain gorilla is one of only 790 in the world

'We are very concerned about a growing market for baby gorillas that is feeding a dangerous trafficking activity in rebel controlled areas of eastern DRC,' director of Virunga national park, Emmanuel de Merode, told the Guardian.

'We are powerless to control the international trade in baby gorillas, but our rangers are doing everything they can to stamp it out on the ground.

'Four baby gorillas seized in less than a year is unusually high … [but] it's only the tip of the iceberg, as we only manage to catch a small proportion of the offenders because the wildlife service is under-resourced in Congo.'

source: dailymail