Number of mountain gorillas Photo by Md. Towhidul Islam on the rise in Virunga massif

On 31st of May 2018, the authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Rwanda and the Republic of Uganda released the results of the new census on mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) in the transboundary Virunga Massif. Thanks to intensive conservation efforts, the total number of mountain gorillas has risen from 480 in 2010 to 604 in 2016, a record number ever documented in the Massif.

In addition to Virunga, the other area hosting mountain gorillas in the wild is the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. Combined with the 2011 population figures of 400 in Bwindi, the two areas now host a total of 1,004 mountain gorillas.

Factors behind this conservation success story include strong conservation policies and strategies, regulated tourism, daily protection and veterinary services, intensive law enforcement, and extensive collaboration at the community as well as transboundary level.

While this news undoubtebly gives reason for careful optimism, it should be remembered that the mountain gorilla remains critically endangered and is highly vulnerable to various threats including habitat loss, climate change and disease.

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