KIGALI (Reuters) - Rwandan authorities have rescued a baby gorilla of the critically endangered mountain species from poachers who said they had bought it for $15,000 in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Police rescued the male mountain gorilla, aged between 8 and 12 months, on Monday night, the authorities said on Tuesday.
"The baby gorilla was found in the hands of three poachers, namely Jean Baptiste Mushebeje, Musabyimana Elia and Tuma Janvier, who are all being held in police custody in Gisenyi," the Rwanda Development Board said in a statement.
"Currently the baby's external conditions show that he is in good health."
Last month, Rwanda handed over six orphaned gorillas to the DRC after poachers smuggled them out of the country to sell as exotic pets or for consumption as bush meat.
Wildlife conservation and endangered species group WWF (World Wildlife Fund) classifies mountain gorillas as critically endangered, with about 680 surviving in the wild, all in central Africa.
However, poaching has decimated populations of the endangered primates and the Rwandan government has vowed to step up efforts to stop trafficking.
The rare mountain gorillas are found in a Ugandan national park or in the Virunga Volcano Region, which straddles the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC.