Thanks to Conservation Mountain Gorilla Population Rises

In the last 10 years, the population of Mountain Gorillas has increased from roughly 680 to over 1,000 today.



(Jurgen Vogt /

Mountain Gorillas are making a comeback. With over 1,000 in the wild, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) upgraded the status of the gorillas to endangered.

“This is a remarkable and unique conservation success story,” said Dr. Tara Stoinski, the Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund President and CEO/Chief Scientist, in a fund press release. “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."

The fund is named after Dr. Diane Fossey a primate researcher whose work with mountain gorillas and memoir led to international attention and was the basis for the 1988 movie "Gorillas in our Midst". Before her death in 1985, when mountain gorillas numbers were down to 240, she projected that these beautiful primates would be extinct by 2000.

This thankfully has not occurred. The IUCN credits intensive conservation efforts that include anti-poaching patrols and veterinary interventions that include the removal of snares with the increase in numbers.

Stoinski, who helped prepare the reassessment report said, “Mountain gorillas have experienced some of the highest levels of protection of any animal — more than 20 times the global average of field staff per square kilometer. This is the type of extreme conservation required if we want to ensure a future for wildlife.”

The mountain gorilla's habitat – lush misty forests – is restricted to two protected areas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda but the areas are bordered by land that is cultivated for agriculture. Wars in the area also threaten this habitat.

Dr. Liz Williamson of the IUCNs SSC Primate Specialist Group cautioned that while this is fantastic news, the subspecies is still endangered and conservation action must continue.

“Coordinated efforts through a regional action plan and fully implementing IUCN Best Practice guidelines for great ape tourism and disease prevention, which recommend limiting numbers of tourists and preventing any close contact with humans, are critical to ensuring a future for the Mountain Gorilla,” she said.

This success story shows what a joint effort between conservation groups and governments can do. Extreme conservation works and hopefully will become the model to save our species around the world.

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