Sosa was a male western lowland gorilla of the Mayele group found in the Dzanga Sangha protected areas in the Central African Republic. He was the son of Mayele the leader and silver back of the group. The group is one of the three habituated groups in DzangaSangha, one of the area’s main tourist attractions. Sosa was shot and killed last friday by poachers. Two suspected poachers have been arrested, though it is still uncertain whether the poachers’ intention was to target the gorillas or they unintendedly stumbled across Sosa while illegally hunting for other bushmeat and shot him while trying to defend his group.
It has been reported by the World Wildlife Fund’s Central African Republic country director that it is the first killing of a habituated western lowland gorilla by poachers since the programme started 18 years ago, which is also a reminder of how difficult and dangerous conservation work in CAR can be and therefore the authorities have been called upon to thoroughly and swiftly investigate this case and hand down appropriate sentences to the perpetrators.
Sosa was one of the two blackbacks in the 10-member group. His habituation started in 2005. He was described as one the most habituated individuals and an interesting character, always very curious and keen to play with his siblings. His confindence was increasing as he showed signs of maturity and also spending longer periods at the edge of the group, away from the individuals. This was clear that he was ready to break away from the group and start his own family.
The western lowland gorillas are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN red list despite the numerous and geographicaly widespread of the gorillas. Poaching still stands out to be the most serious threat to the species together with the habitat loss and disease. The local communities and authorities greatly support the habituation programme because they all work hand in hand by protecting the reserve and funding development projects.