Against All Odds, The Mountain Gorilla Population Is On The Rise

July 2, 2018

According to the most recent census, the mountain gorilla population living in the Virunga mountains in Africa has grown from 480 in 2010 to 604 as of June 2016.

Add another couple hundred apes living in scattered habitats to the south, and their population as a whole totals more than 1,000.

mountain gorillas on the rise
Photo credit: The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

This reconfirms the mountain gorilla's status as the only wild ape population whose numbers are known to be increasing, and research shows the increase is due to the type of intensive daily protection provided by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and the park authorities of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"Today's announcement represents a huge success for conservation at a time when such success stories are increasingly rare. All those working to protect mountain gorillas — the governments of Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo; conservation organizations; and local communities — have a lot to be proud of," says Dr. Tara Stoinski, President and CEO of the Fossey Fund.

The news coincides with the Fossey Fund's building of a new gorilla conservation center in Rwanda, named the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, which was funded by friends and family of the beloved television host for her birthday earlier this year.

The multi-acre campus will be the new home of the more than 50-year-old Karisoke Research Center, which is the hub of the Fossey Fund's protection, research, training and community outreach programs in Rwanda.

"Given that during the time Dian Fossey worked with the gorillas it was thought they would go extinct by the year 2000, this continued growth, based on the work she started, demonstrates that intensive conservation works," says Stoinski.

However, with only about 1,000 individuals remaining, divided into two separate populations, mountain gorillas have been under constant threat from poachers and remain one of the world's most-endangered animals.

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