Famed gorilla dies at 35 in DR Congo park

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VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - 2016/05/17: An 18-year old female mountain gorilla watches a young male walking by in the jungle of the Virunga National Park. The primate shares 98% of its DNA with the human being. Virunga park is home to about a third of the estimated 900 mountain gorillas remaining on earth. (Photo by Thierry Falise/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A veteran gorilla descended from a celebrated forebear immortalized on a banknote has been found dead near a national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the protected reserve announced on Monday.

“The solitary gorilla Mugaruka, aged about 35, died of bloody diarrhoea on Friday,” park spokesman Hubert Mulongoy told AFP.

The body was discovered by rangers in a tea plantation close to Kahuzi-Biega.

The gorilla was the last descendant of Maheshe who was killed by poachers and remembered on a banknote under Mobutu Sese Seko’s presidency.

“It’s an enormous loss,” Mulongoy said.

“He would come regularly to visit us in the general area of the park, to the public’s delight.”

Mugaruka lived alone having lost an arm in a trap at the age of three.

The 600,000 square kilometres reserve, lies between two extinct volcanoes near Bukavu, in one of the most troubled areas of the vast country.

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