Friday, 20 January 2012

All About the Mountain Gorillas

After the recent census of mountain gorillas in the Virunga Massif, the population of mountain gorillas stands at 786: 480 in the Virunga Massif (based on 2010 census) + 302 in Bwindi (based on 2006 census) + 4 orphaned gorillas in a sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A century of persecution
In 1902, the German explorer Oscar von Beringe became the first non-African to encounter the mountain gorilla. In the ensuing century, a combination of hunting and habitat destruction has driven this very rare primate to the verge of extinction.

To the rescue – the first gorilla champions
But for the intervention and dedication of a handful of people, the mountain gorilla would surely already be extinct. The work of conservationists such as Carl Akeley, George Schaller and Dian Fossey focused global attention on the plight of gorillas

Local heroes
It is the people of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Uganda, for the most part unsung heroes, who deserve the credit for ensuring the survival of the mountain gorilla, and who offer the greatest hope for its continued survival over the coming centuries. The continued protection, monitoring and management of the mountain gorilla and its habitat have demanded huge commitment and cost many lives. The dedication of park staff in the three countries is the chief reason why mountain gorillas are thriving today

Limited range
Mountain gorillas are effectively divided into two distinct populations. The first is confined to an area of around 330 square kms in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The second is found in the Virunga Volcano Region (VVR), which lies across the international borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Although it comprises one single ecosystem covering approximately 450 square kms, the VVR is separated into three national parks: Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Volcano National Park in Rwanda and the Southern Sector of the Virunga National Park in DRC

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