The world’s largest great ape, Grauer’s gorilla, is in rapid decline. According to a recent report numbers have dropped from 17,000 in 1995 to 3,800 today.1
The report by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Fauna and Flora International justifies raising the status of the Grauer’s gorilla, also known as the Eastern Lowland Gorilla, to “critically endangered” on IUCN’s red list. This subspecies of gorilla is only found in the DR Congo and is closely related to the mountain gorilla.
Years of war, illegal bushmeat trading and illegal mining, including mining for coltan used in mobile phones, have decimated the population.
It’s devastating news for these incredible animals, and for the forest that they call home. But there is silver lining.
In Cool Earth’s Lubutu partnership in DR Congo, we have recently completed a biodiversity monitoring project. Not only is Grauer’s gorilla present in the partnership area, but seven families have been discovered. Four rangers and eight locally trained guides looked at prints, tracks, dung, scratch marks and nests.
The team also looked at the type of habitats and abundance of the three plants most commonly eaten by Grauer’s gorillas, to see whether the area might be suitable for reintroducing orphaned gorillas from a nearby sanctuary.
The families of gorillas in our partnership area range in size from about five to seven individuals and they seem to be thriving.
Thanks to our supporters their homes are protected. Let’s hope it’s the beginning of more good news for these magnificent apes.