One of the world’s most charismatic and endangered species – the mountain gorilla – is increasing in numbers according to a new study in Africa.
The analysis of the census conducted in March and April indicates that there were a total of 480 mountain gorillas in 36 groups along with 14 solitary silverback males in the Virunga Massif.
The area includes three contiguous national parks: Parc National des Virunga in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Along with the 302 mountain gorillas censused in Bwindi in 2006 and four orphaned mountain gorillas in a sanctuary in DRC, this brings the total world population to 786 individuals.
The last census undertaken in the Virunga Massif was in 2003, when the population was estimated at 380 individuals. The current figure represents a 26.3 % increase in the population of mountain gorillas in this area over the last seven years, which is a 3.7 % annual growth rate. This increase in the population occurred despite the killing of no less than nine mountain gorillas, in four separate incidents, during this time period.
Dr. Augustin Basabose, Coordinator of Species at the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP), said: “This population has made an absolutely remarkable recovery from the approximately 250 individuals that existed only three decades ago. This recovery is due to the relentless collaborative efforts of many organisations and institutions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.”