Wildlife & Biodiversity

Mountain Gorillas back from the brink

The Great Ape species now numbers 1,000, up from 680 a decade ago

By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Thursday 15 November 2018

A silverback in Rwanda's Virunga mountains.   Credit: Getty ImagesIn a rare conservation success story, Mountain Gorillas, found in the highlands of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have bounced back from the brink of extinction.

On November 14, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) issued a statement, moving the species from the “Critically Endangered” threat level to “Endangered”, thanks to collaborative conservation efforts.

“The 2008 Mountain Gorilla population was estimated to be around 680 individuals, but 2018 estimates show that it has increased to over 1,000 individuals, the highest figure ever recorded for the subspecies. The population growth has been confirmed through coordinated and improved survey methods,” the IUCN statement reads.

Several reasons are being attributed to the recovery of the animals. The governments of the three countries where the gorillas are found have stepped up enforcement of national park boundaries, where hunting, logging and paved roads are illegal.

There is constant veterinary care available to the gorillas. If they are caught in poachers ‘snares, park veterinarians immediately spring to action and attend to them.

Eco-tourism too is playing its part. Visitors pay up to $US1500 an hour to watch gorillas, that helps pay for park rangers.

However, threats to Mountain Gorillas have not diminished. Their 792 square kilometre-habitat on the borders of Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda lies in an very insecure zone of Africa that is constantly prone to civil unrest. The human population in the region is expanding and wants more land for agriculture. Moreover, a number of human-induced diseases like Ebola could wipe them off if proper care is not taken.

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