SHEIKH, 7 December 2009 (Somalilandpress) — It is always exciting when a new species are discovered in country, but the idea that most animals are long gone from Somaliland either by migration or the due to the civil war in the 1980s.
Now, it’s been reported that at least two gorillas has been discovered in mountains about 20-kms east of the town of Sheikh in Somaliland.
According to local reports, the inhabitants of the area, who never seen a gorilla before, described the animal about the size of a small donkey and moving around by knuckle-walking. At the time of the sighting, the locals said one of the gorilla was chasing a chimpanzee.
The sighting has created fear among the people of Geed-Lookor area. Many feared the animal could attack their livestock, which is livelihood to many here in Somaliland, while others feared it would create health hazards.
Mr. Mohamed Adan who is prominent expert on ancient studies, has been collecting data on the sighting of this animal. Mr Mohamed stated that the fear of the locals is that this animal might come to the water wells and ponds in search of water and could transmit diseases to local people and animals. Mr Mohamed is also a staff member of the Ministry of tourism in Somaliland.
In the past, diseases such as Ebola hemorrhagic fever broke out in number of African states and is highly contagious and causes a range of symptoms including fever, vomiting, diarrhea, generalized pain or malaise and in many cases internal and external bleeding. Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a deadly illness with case-fatality rate ranging from 50 percent to 89 percent that can occur in humans and in primates (monkeys, gorillas).
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Although, gorillas are strong and powerful animal, it is a ground-dwelling and predominantly herbivorous, therefore posses no direct threat to local livestock and other animals. However, because we share 98% genetic material with gorillas we can easily transmit diseases to each other, therefore it’s important that the government determines if there really are gorillas in Somaliland’s Geed-Lookor mountains and protects both the endangered animal and the locals.
Somaliland ministry of tourism said they plan to send a surveillance team to investigate further into the sightings and will do health examinations if required.
It is not clear how and when these animals arrived in Somaliland because gorillas typically inhabit the forests of central Africa.
Gorillas were unheard of in Somaliland until now, however due to over-hunting, climate change and socioeconomic unrest animals such as ostriches, lions, and kudu that once were found in great numbers in this land are either extinct or near-extinct.
Even though, in the past eighteen years, many animals have slowly returned because of stability in the region, many are endangered due to deforestation and land clearance.
According to a study by the Academy for Peace and Development, more than 2.5 million trees are felled annually and burned for charcoal in Somaliland in 2007. The report stated that each household in Somaliland consumed an equivalent of 10 trees a month.
On 30 April of this year, Hargeisa’s regional governor, Maroodi Jeeh, passed a bill banning the trade in charcoal and the burning of trees, however no one knows what impact it had thus far even though charcoal trade has fallen from 2007 levels in 2008.