Gorilla population stages mild comeback in war-torn Congo

For the last decade and a half, gorilla populations in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo have been victimized by the fighting between warring militia factions. But in a surprise finding, researchers say that a small band of Grauer’s gorillas living in the highland sector of Kahuzi-Biega National Park grew to 181 members compared with 168 detected in the same sector during a 2004 census.

The results were announced by the Wildlife Conservation Society on Friday.

Deo Kujirakwinja, WCS’s Albertine Rift Coordinator in DRC said that the survey members experienced several close calls with armed militias during the survey. “Thankfully, no one was hurt, and our census result is positive news for the conservation community,” Kujirakwinja said.

A “cousin” to the more famous mountain gorilla, the Grauer’s gorilla is the largest subspecies of gorilla in the world. The number of Grauer’s gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega National Park has waxed and waned through the years, reaching a high of 250 in the early 1990s. Their numbers plummeted to 130 in 2000, following the outbreak of civil war in the region.

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