Friday, 8 June 2018

Mountain gorilla population rises above 1,000

New total represents an increase of 25% since 2010 in its central African heartland

Damian CarringtonEnvironment editor
Thu 31 May 2018 15.52 BSTLast modified on Thu 31 May 2018 18.45 BST

It is one of the most recognisable animals in the world and one of the most endangered, but a new census reveals the surviving mountain gorilla population has now risen above 1,000.

This represents a rise of 25% since 2010 in its heartland of the Virunga Massif in central Africa. It also marks success for intensive conservation work in a region riven by armed conflict, and where six park guards were murdered in April.

Sir David Attenborough, whose 1979 encounter with the great apes remains a famous television moment, said: “When I first visited the mountain gorillas, the situation was dire: the number of these remarkable animals was dreadfully small. It is incredibly heartening therefore to see how the efforts of so many different groups – communities, governments, NGOs – have paid off.”

But Attenborough, an ambassador for WWF UK, warned: “The threats to mountain gorillas haven’t disappeared entirely, of course, so now the challenge must be to ensure that these achievements are sustained long into the future.”

The 1979 encounter led him to reflect: “There is more meaning and mutual understanding in exchanging a glance with a gorilla than any other animal I know – they are so like us.”

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