Endangered Mountain gorilla population grows slightly since 2010

November 15 – According to the survey from Ugandan Wildlife Authority, carried out in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the total number of the critically endangered Mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) has risen to 880. This number represents an increase of more than 10% in relation to the previous estimates of 786 individuals from only two years ago.

Mountain gorilla adult male

Mountain gorilla adult male © Dave Proffer / Flickr

Mountain gorilla lives in only two locations in the world – Uganada’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the Virunga Massif area, which spans parts of Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Rwanda.

The census confirmed the presence of 400 gorillas in Bwandi and 480 in Virunga Massif area. Both populations have had positive trends in population growth over the last decade.

“Mountain gorillas are the only great ape experiencing a population increase. This is largely due to intensive conservation efforts and successful community engagement,” said David Greer, WWF’s African Great Ape Programme Manager.

Many groups of mountain gorillas have become accustomed to the presence of humans and are becoming a major tourist attraction. Income from these activities is helping to fund local conservation activities, especially survailance, and community projects like schools and wells. All 400 Bwandi gorillas are living either in troops (36 of them) or solitary (16 solitary males). 10 out of these 36 troops have been habituated to human presence.

However, the gorillas are still threatened by poaching, habitat loss and disease transfer from humans. Oil exploration around Congo’s Virunga National Park is also a concerning issue, reports WWF.

“More people in Virunga would likely lead to an increase in deforestation, illegal hunting and more snares in the forest,” Greer says. “At least seven Virunga mountain gorillas have been caught in snares this year and two did not survive. The gorilla population remains fragile and could easily slip into decline if conservation management was to be disregarded in the pursuit of oil money by elites.”

The Bwindi mountain gorilla census was conducted by the Uganda Wildlife Authority with support from l’Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature and the Rwanda Development Board. It was supported by the International Gorilla Conservation Programme, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, and several more institutions and organizations. The funding was provided by WWF-Sweden, with additional support from Berggorilla & Regenwald Direkthilfe e.V., the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Source: WWF