Mountain gorillas make comeback

Numbers of mountain gorillas are on the rise in the Virunga Massif, one of two remaining habitats of the critically endangered species. The positive results come following a two-year survey in the transboundary area between the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.

Results from a two-year survey in the transboundary Virunga Massif have shown that mountain gorillas are making a comeback.

Numbers of the critically endangered species rose from an estimated 480 in 2010 to 604 in the latest estimates. Among them are 41 social groups and 14 solitary males in the transboundary area.

This brings the global minimum count for the species to an approximate 1,004 individuals when combined with comparable figures from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, where the rest of the sub-species is found, according to a statement from WWF.

Conducted during 2015 and 2016 by the Protected Areas Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, the latest survey results are an encouraging sign for conservation efforts, WWF added. The mountain gorilla is the only great ape in the world considered to be increasing in population.

Margaret Kinnaird, Wildlife Practice Leader WWF, commented: “This is fabulous news for mountain gorillas and shows what we can do for wildlife when NGOs, governments and their communities work together.”

However, she warned that climate change, infrastructure development and a high number of snares still posed a threat to the mountain gorillas. During the surveys, the research teams found and destroyed more than 380 snares, which were set for antelope but can also kill or harm gorillas.

The findings are the result of surveying coordinated by the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration and supported by the International Gorilla Conservation Programme.

Photo credit: Rod Waddington/ CC BY-SA 2.0

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