The UN’s Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) has recently announced welcome census results that indicate significantly more Mountain gorillas exist in Uganda than previously thought.
The census found a minimum of 400 Mountain gorillas living in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the location of our Great Gorilla Project, which boosts the population found in eastern Africa to an estimated 880. Approximately 780 Mountain gorillas were thought to exist previously and this rise is attributed to more accurate census techniques and actual population growth among the gorillas.
Mountain gorillas, a subspecies of the eastern lowland gorilla, live in mountain forests in only two locations in the world – Bwindi in south-west Uganda and the Virunga Massif, a range of extinct volcanoes that border the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. Their numbers had dwindled to so few in the 1980s that some experts felt they could become extinct in the 20th century, but they now receive significant protection due to the important role they play in the region’s tourist industry.
Drew McVey, species programme manager at the World Wide Fund for Nature – U.K. (WWF-UK), believes the latest increase was due to conservation efforts that had successfully engaged the local community, such as the outreach work undertaken on the Great Gorilla Projects.
"Mountain gorillas have only survived because of conservation,” McVey said. “Protected areas are better managed and resourced than they have ever been - we don't just work with the animals in the national parks, but also with the people."
“The new census offers incredibly good news for Mountain gorillas,” said GRASP coordinator Doug Cress. “But that is still a very fragile and endangered population that faces immense pressure from deforestation, human encroachment, civil wars, and disease. Now, oil exploration is threatening their habit. All the world’s Mountain gorillas live in a relatively small area of east Africa and require constant vigilance if the populations are to continue to grow.”