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The world’s population of critically endangered western lowland gorillas has received a huge boost. A new, groundbreaking census released by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) shows massive numbers of these secretive great apes alive and well in the Republic of Congo. In addition, the researchers discovered the highest gorilla densities ever recorded, as high as eight individuals in an area smaller than half a square mile.
Together with the government of Congo, WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) has tallied more than 125,000 western gorillas in two adjacent areas of the northern part of the country.
The startling discovery brings new hope for the critically endangered western lowland gorilla, which had been previously thought to number fewer than 50,000 across the species’ entire range. WCS released the census results at a press conference on August 5, 2008 at the International Primatological Society Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The new census was the result of intensive fieldwork carried out by WCS and the Government of Republic of Congo. Across an area covering 18,000 square miles, researchers tracked the animals by counting their nests, which nomadic gorillas build each evening to sleep in before rising the next morning in search of browse and a new overnight campsite.
Throughout Central Africa, WCS works with governments, indigenous communities, and the private sector to establish management programs for gorillas and other wildlife. Developing effective law enforcement measures for protected species is key: Human activities represent the greatest threat to gorillas. They are endangered largely because of poaching for the bushmeat trade, habitat destruction due to logging, and health threats such as the Ebola virus.
Our education and outreach efforts to reduce the bushmeat trade target both local and urban markets, and include developing alternative protein sources in larger logging towns. WCS-Africa and Field Veterinary Program staff monitor gorilla health to understand the transmission patterns of Ebola and other diseases, and are currently testing methods in the field to potentially control Ebola’s spread in great ape populations.
Many of the gorillas counted in the recent census live outside existing protected areas, particularly in the Ntokou-Pikounda landscape. This mosaic of swamp forest, clearings, and mixed forests is also habitat for elephants, chimpanzees, crocodiles, and hippos, as well as rare and threatened birds such as crowned eagles and hornbills. The remoteness of the region—much of which lies beyond the current reach of bushmeat hunters—means that this “green abyss,” in the words of WCS conservationist Mike Fay, is still relatively undisturbed. The Republic of Congo has committed to creating a new national park to help safeguard its future.
WCS field staff will work with the Congolese government to ensure the success of the new protected areas, just as we have helped to manage the country’s Lac Télé Community Reserve, Conkouati-Douli National Park, and Nouabalé Ndoki National Park. There, our scientists and educators are training the next generation of national park managers, biologists, and community conservationists.
Originally posted by Deharg
I think it is probably about time to question the original estimates in the first place. How difficult can it be to miss two football stadia full of Gorillas.
Results of the most recent global primate assessment have been discussed this week at the annual International Primatological Society meeting, held in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The survey was done as part of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and it is grim reading.
Nearly 50% of the world's 634 primate species and subspecies are in danger of going extinct. The situation is most dire in Asia, where more than 70% could disappear forever in the near future.
News reports of a global species extinction crisis appear every now and then. Somehow, the fact that hundreds and perhaps even thousands of species are lost daily - gone forever, irreplaceable - has not roused much alarm among the general public.