More mountain gorillas in the wild are ever recorded than before thanks to collaborative protection and conservation efforts.
What are some of the threats that mountain gorillas have to face?
Mountain Gorilla Population Recovers
Latest census numbers show a significant increase in the number of mountain gorillas living in the Virunga Massif. Compared to 2010 when there were only 480 of them, the latest numbers show that there are now 604 gorillas living in the area.
When this is added to the 400 mountain gorillas living in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda, their population now totals to 1,004, which is more than ever recorded before.
The incredible increase in mountain gorilla population is a result of massive efforts from the government and various organizations that continue to protect and conserve the creatures so that they can make a comeback from the brink of extinction.
“These numbers are truly remarkable, far exceeding our expectations, and are the result of a collaborative, three-country effort with governments and partners all playing an important role,” said Mike Cranfield, Africa director of Gorilla Doctors, one of the organizations that help in the conservation of mountain gorillas.
They also provide medical attention to sick or injured mountain gorillas and Grauer’s gorillas, cousins of the mountain gorillas.
The census was conducted by survey teams who gathered gorilla fecal matter, meticulously scoured through the forest, followed gorilla trails, and counted night nests.
Mountain Gorillas Under Threat
As large as mountain gorillas are, the creatures are actually herbivores that mostly consume over 10 different plant species including celery, wood, roots, and thistle. Interestingly, they barely need to drink water as they get most of their water needs from the plants that they eat.
As previously mentioned, the mountain gorilla is one of the largest primates on the planet, but they are also one of the most critically endangered. Sadly, their primary predators are humans who encroach on their habitats, degrade forests, and kill them for profit. Furthermore, as the human population push closer to gorilla populations, some human illnesses are also passed on to the creatures.
It’s also worth noting that the political unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo has also been putting pressure on the Virunga National Park where the gorillas reside, placing the creatures at the center of the conflict.
In 1991, authorities recognized the need to protect mountain gorillas. Soon, the International Gorilla Conservation Program was established, creating an international and inter-organizational effort to save the creatures from extinction.
Now, nations, as well as various organizations, are working closely together to protect the habitats of the mountain gorillas, and to reduce the wildlife-human conflict by also working with communities living close to the protected areas.
Since the 1970s when there were only a few hundred mountain gorillas, today’s count of over 1,000 is truly a cause for celebration.