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July 19th, 2012
08:12 PM ET

Fighting to save gorillas threatened by conflict

CNN's Erin Burnett examines the plight of the Silverback Gorillas. An outbreak of violence in the Congo has left the very endangered species virtually defenseless against armed combatants. Their very existence is being threatened every day and we wanted to find out what's being done to protect them.

CNN's David McKenzie reports from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Fighting threatens gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Fighting between the national army and rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is threatening mountain gorillas, a critically endangered species, the Virunga National Park said Sunday.

Just two of the park's five gorilla patrol posts remain open after the fighting intensified and rebels reportedly moved into the area.

Virunga National Park, Africa's oldest national park, is home to roughly 25% of the world's mountain gorillas.

"We are deeply concerned with the safety of the mountain gorillas who are exposed to the dangers of artillery fire, but we must also take care of our staff who have to be evacuated from the combat zone. As soon as there is a lull in the fighting, we will return to check on the gorillas," Emmanuel de Merode, chief warden for Virunga National Park, said in a statement.

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