Mountain gorilla numbers rise

2012-11-14 13:36

The world's population of mountain gorillas has increased by more than 10% in two years, new census figures show.

The Guardian reports that a survey carried out in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable national park has found that numbers of the critically endangered species, Gorilla beringei beringei, have risen from an estimated 786 in 2010 to 880 today.

Mountain gorillas, a subspecies of the eastern lowland gorilla, once faced such severe threats, including war, habitat destruction and disease, that they were expected to become extinct by the end of the 20th century. Instead, the population has increased significantly in the past 30 years, and it is thought to be due to conservation efforts that had successfully engaged the local community.

Drew McVey, species programme manager at WWF-UK, who supported the census as part of the International Gorilla Conservation Programme said that conservation now balanced species survival against the needs of an incredibly poor area with high population pressures, for example, tackling the loss of gorilla habitat due to the illegal collection of firewood by providing the community with access to alternative energy sources.

Mountain gorillas live in only two locations in the world - Bwindi in south-west Uganda and the Virunga Massif, a range of extinct volcanoes on the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda.

According to the census report, there are more than 400 mountain gorillas in Bwindi, living in 36 distinct social groups, with 16 solitary males. Ten of these social groups are accustomed to human presence for either tourism or research. A 2010 survey counted 480 individuals in Virunga Massif.

Read more on:    animals  |  travel international

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