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Ten mountain gorillas born amidst fighting
28 January 2009

A recent survey of habituated gorilla groups in the Virunga National Park in DR Congo has revealed that 10 mountain gorillas were born during the past 16 months despite ongoing conflict and political unrest in the region. The survey, the first since the rangers were expelled from the forest by rebel forces, revealed that the habituated population now stands at 81 gorillas, an increase of 12.5%. Park rangers also estimate that 120 non-habituated gorillas live in the Virunga National Park.

“The birth of 10 gorillas in Virunga National Park is fantastic news for the population. The past 16 months of conflict in eastern Congo have been a worrying time for conservationists, who have not been able to monitor the gorillas during this time. We had no idea how the gorillas were coping in the middle of the war zone, but their resilience has delighted us all” said Jillian Miller, director of the Gorilla Oganization.

In addition to the births, the census identified two new adult females, thought to have joined the habituated families from non-habituated groups, but sadly failed to locate three previously identified individuals.

“Mountain gorilla family structures change with each birth, death, interaction and migration. The Kabirizi family, our largest gorilla group with 33 individuals, has five newborns, which is wonderful news. But we are still hoping to locate the three gorillas that we have not seen yet” Said ICCN monitoring head, Innocent Mburanumwe.

More than 50 congolese park rangers conducted the eight-week survey, which consisted of over 128 patrols. Six gorilla families and three solitary silverbacks were identified in the sector. The rangers reported no sign of gorilla mortality but more than 530 snares, set by poachers, were removed from the forest, a significant increase compared to previous findings.

The news of the Congolese mountain gorilla population increase follows a genetic census of mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda. The census of this park, which is home to almost half the worldwide population of mountain gorillas, revealed that there may be fewer gorillas in this area than previously thought.

The total number of mountain gorillas in the world is estimated at around 720 individuals.  

 

for further information or photographs contact:

David Hewitt, Communications Manager
The Gorilla Organization, 110 Gloucester Avenue, London, Nw1 8HX
Tel: 020 7916 4974
Mobile: 07801 971123
david@gorillas.org
www.gorillas.org