Gain for Gorillas

The total world population of mountain gorillas is rising 

Nov 14, 2012 | By Cameron Keady
CYRIL RUOSO—MINDEN PICTURES

Endangered mountain gorillas are close biological cousins to humans. Over the past decade, people have made an extra effort to help their fellow primates. And now, the results are proving to be positive. According to new information released by the Uganda Wildlife Authority and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the total world population of mountain gorillas has risen in the last two years from 786 to 880. While mountain gorillas still remain an endangered species, this increase is largely thanks to the actions of conservationists.  “Mountain gorillas are the only great ape experiencing a population increase,” said David Greer, WWF’s African Great Ape Program Manager. “This is largely due to intensive conservation efforts and successful community engagement.”

Mountain gorillas live in communities of up to 30 individuals.
GETTY IMAGES
Mountain gorillas live in communities of up to 30 individuals.

Strength in Numbers

In 2000, the total population of mountain gorillas was only 320 individuals. The low number was a result of illegal hunting, habitat loss, and disease. Since then, the number has risen, but slowly.

Mountain gorillas live in Rwanda, Uganda, and Democratic Republic of Congo—all countries in central Africa. To ensure more protection and care, nearly half of the existing population lives in a national park. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, located in the northern part of Rwanda, is home to 400 mountain gorillas.  They have formed 36 social groups and are led by 16 male gorillas. Ten of these groups have become used to human presence from research and tourism.

Family Ties

Mountain gorillas are highly social creatures that live in a community environment. Typically, mountain gorillas live in a group of about 30 individuals. The leader is a dominant older male who organizes the group for hunting and nesting. This male can weigh up to 500 pounds and stand nearly 6 feet tall. Often he will have silver hair on his back, marking his senior age and dominance within the group. Like any community, gorillas depend on one another. Now, they are depending on humans to help keep them alive.