Gorillas remain on the 'Red List' of endangered species, with numbers of both western and eastern species in decline.
Gorillas remain on the ‘Red List’ of endangered species, with numbers of both western and eastern species in decline.
Updating its respected list of species in peril, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has reported that there are now some 22,784 animals and plants faced with extinction.
Among those, Gorilla beringei, which consists of both the eastern lowland and the mountain gorilla subspecies is classed as ‘endangered’, with the population trend labelled as ‘decreasing’. Meanwhile, Gorilla gorilla, the western gorilla, which consists of the two subspecies western lowland gorilla and the Cross River gorilla is classed as ‘critically endangered’ one step away from being extinct in the wild. Again, population numbers are classed as decreasing, with the Cross River gorilla in particular danger.
Summing up the threats to western gorillas in the wild, the Red List notes: “Most protected areas have serious poaching problems and almost half of the habitat under protected status has been hard hit by Ebola. Commercial hunting and Ebola induced mortality are both continuing.”
Similarly, eastern gorillas continue to be severely affected by human activity, the report also notes, with the main threat facing both lowland and mountain gorillas the ongoing destruction of their natural habitat by mining and unchecked agriculture.
According to the latest scientific estimates, eastern gorilla numbers are likely to carry on falling for the next 30-40 years, though this negative trend could carry on for longer still, depending on factors such as human population density across key regions of central and eastern Africa, demand for resources and political stability in the states where gorillas can be found living in the wild.
Jillian Miller, Executive Director of the Gorilla Organization, says: “It’s no surprise that gorillas are still at the wrong end of the Red List. Sadly, the threats facing all subspecies of gorillas in the wild are as strong as ever: habitat loss continues unabated and, despite some notable improvements, poaching remains a major problem.
“Tragically, as well as this, gorillas in the west of Africa are now threated with human diseases, above all Ebola. We agree with the IUCN that the key to saving a species from extinction is through on-the-ground conservation programmes. We need to work harder than ever to make sure that this worrying decline is halted and reversed.”
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