Mountain gorila population increases


During the last seven years, the number of mountain gorillas living in national parks in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo has increased by 26%, according to a new census.

Scientists found the population of the endangered mountain gorila has increased to 480 this year up from 380 in 2003, when the last census was conducted in the Virunga Massif. According to the census, gorilla population is growing at a rate of 3.7% a year.

The census was conducted in March and April 2010 by people who walked over 1,000 kilometres in the three African countries, documenting fresh signs of mountain gorilla groups.

The number of gorila population has increased thanks to that a collaborative “transboundary” effort by organisations in the three countries to protect the gorillas and their habitat, conservationists say.

Rwanda, where gorillas are the leading attraction, reached $175 million from tourism last year, and the country expected to target $186 million by the end of 2010, the country’s Development Board has said.

Despite this increase, the population of the endangered primate is still just as vulnerable to poaching and habitat destruction. “We’re dealing with an unusual situation, where we have very low numbers in a single location. It’s like having all your eggs in one basket, and that makes them very vulnerable beyond the success we’ve been having these last few years,” said Emmanuel de Merode, director of Virunga National Park.