Mountain gorillas moving a step to successful recovery
Conservation efforts change mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei ssp. Beringei) status from tragedy to fragile success (critically endangered to endangered). This shift from the highest level of threat indicates mountain gorillas moving a step towards successful recovery from the extinction threats that were held 10 years back, mountain gorillas not critically endangered anymore. The last assessment on 30th June 2008 listed mountain gorillas under critically endangered and the 31st July 2018 assessment moved mountain gorillas to endangered (a small step further from extinction). Published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – the international organization that tracks the conservation status of animal and plant species around the world – based on the input of expert scientists.
The mountain gorilla meanwhile has been moved from the “critically endangered” category to “endangered” thanks to collaborative conservation efforts across several countries, including anti-poaching patrols, IUCN said. This makes mountain gorillas not critically endangered anymore.
Mountain gorillas have been the key tourist attraction and the lead activity for Uganda gorilla trekking safari, gorilla safari Rwanda and Congo gorilla trekking safari tourists. These are the only countries that host the world’s remaining mountain gorillas within the Virunga massif shared by the three countries and another extension at Bwindi impenetrable national park in Uganda.
Previously, mountain gorillas were estimated at about 880 surviving individuals both in the Virunga massif and Bwindi forest however, after the last census, the numbers were found to have increased to 1,004 surviving individuals. In the Virunga massif comprising of Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, Virunga national park in Congo and Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda, over the past 30 years, the mountain gorilla numbers have increased from 240 to 604 with the other population that counts to the over 1000 total in Bwindi impenetrable national park Uganda. This is the highest number of the Eastern gorilla sub species ever recorded as noted by IUCN officially reclassifying them as endangered.
Dian Fossey Fund President and CEO/Chief Scientist Dr. Tara Stoinski stated that, “This is a remarkable and unique conservation success story, It is the result of decades of on-the-ground protection by hundreds of dedicated individuals, many of whom lost their lives to protect the gorillas, and a testament to the conservation efforts of the governments of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo where these gorillas live.”
The success is described as fragile because of the threats that still exist of which include limited habitat, disease, human pressures, climate change, and their overall small number. “They remain a conservation-dependent species and must be continually protected,” says Dr. Stoinski. “Any one of these threats could change their status very quickly.”
Unfortunately, the status of all other gorilla populations remains at critically endangered, due to steady ongoing declines in their species. These include the Grauer’s gorillas, Cross River gorillas, Western lowland gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Reaching a new historic milestone, this new status proves value of long-term protection and international efforts. You now have more friends to make on a gorilla safari so don’t miss out.