mountain gorilla is one of
the largest and strongest animals on the planet, yet it is also
extremely vulnerable. Little more than 700 individuals survive in the
dense forests of Central Africa.
Photo Credit: Juan Pablo Moreiras / FFI
Mountain gorillas are a subspecies of the eastern gorilla. Like all
great apes, they are closely related to humans. But today only two
isolated populations remain, one in the Bwindi Impenetrable National
Park, south-west Uganda, and the other on the forested slopes of the
Virunga volcanoes, straddling the borders of the Democratic Republic of
Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. The mountain gorilla is larger than any other
gorilla, with females weighing about 98 kg (215 lbs) and males weighing
up to 160 kg (350 lbs). They live for around 40-50 years.
Mountain gorillas tend to form close-knit
groups, defended by the
dominant Silverback - the term given to adult males due to the dramatic
silvery hair on their back and hips. They are primarily vegetarian,
eating leaves and shoots from their forest habitat, occasionally
supplemented by larvae, snails, and ants.
There is hope for the mountain gorilla
The International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP)
, a partnership
between Fauna & Flora International (FFI)
, African Wildlife
and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF),
working to protect the gorillas since 1991. Dedicated conservation
initiatives have ensured that mountain gorilla numbers are now slowly
increasing. The global population of mountain gorillas has increased by
17% since the start of the Programme.
This work supports local communities
IGCP not only supports the Park Authorities in their efforts to save
gorilla, but also helps to ensure local communities benefit from the
continued presence of the gorillas. People living around the Park are
some of the poorest in Central Africa. Gorilla-based tourism is a
thriving source of revenue and enterprises that use natural resources
sustainably, such as beekeeping and mushroom growing, are helping local
people and gorillas live together.
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