All Gorillas In The Wild Are Now At High Risk Of Extinction
Fewer than 3,8000 Grauer’s gorillas remain in the wild. That’s a 77 percent decline in population numbers of the largest gorilla subspecies group in 20 years, according to a new report released this week.
Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and Fauna & Flora International note in the study that the rapid fall in population numbers should place the Grauer’s subspecies on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s “critically endangered” list. If that happens, all four gorilla subspecies would be on the critical list, categorized as facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.
The sharp drop in population can be directly attributed to humans. The report notes a series of conflicts in Central Africa, such as the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and later civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has forced many people to work for artisanal mining enterprises deep in jungles where they hunt for food.
“Most of these mining camps rely on access to bushmeat for the miners to survive,” the authors write. “Great apes are among the more highly prized species because of their relatively large size.”
The authors found evidence of bushmeat hunting at nearly every mine site they surveyed, with miners “openly stating that they consumed” the animals indiscriminately, regardless of conservation status.
The Grauer’s gorilla lives solely in eastern DRC and can weigh up to 400 pounds. In 1995, populations numbered upwards of 17,000 individuals. Many of the remaining animals now live in just a few national parks and reserves critical to their survival. However, bushmeat hunting still takes place and human conflict around the trade has escalated.