Despite the conflict in the Great Lakes region, the Virunga population of the highly endangered mountain gorillas has been protected effectively and the numbers have increased by more than 10%.
The organizations working together to protect the mountain gorillas and its habitat estimate that the number of Virunga gorillas is now 355 individuals. Monitoring data from IGCP (International Gorilla Conservation Programme) and DFGF-I (Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International) show that the population has been slowly increasing, despite the war and conflict in the region, and the enormous threats to the habitat. The last census of the Virunga population of mountain gorillas was conducted in 1989 and showed the population to number 320 individuals. From the daily monitoring of the research and tourism gorilla groups, and the sightings of wild groups, it appears that the current population stands at a minimum of 355 known gorillas. This figure is most likely an underestimate, with more individuals to be counted, and it represents a significant increase from the 1989 census. An analysis, currently in preparation by IGCP, DFGF-I, the Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation (ITFC) and the Max Planck Institute will describe in more detail the population increase observed.
The increase can be directly traced to the sheer dedication of field staff operating on the ground. Park rangers and trackers, many of whom have been killed or wounded while on duty in Rwanda and Congo, have been patrolling the forest continuously throughout the years of civil unrest. This dedicated work has limited the damage to the habitat and the population of gorillas.From a Press Release by IGCP
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