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Mountain gorillas moved off ‘critically endangered’ list


Mountain gorillas have been re-classified as 'endangered' as numbers rise above 1,000 for the first time since records began

Mountain gorillas have been moved off the list of ‘critically endangered’ species. With numbers having risen above the 1,000 mark for the first time in recorded history, the sub-species of gorilla has now been re-classified as ‘endangered’ by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), moving them a step further away from extinction.

As recently as 2008, just 600 mountain gorillas were left in the world. Now, however, the findings of the most recent census show that there are 1,004 gorillas. This represents a remarkable turnaround and one of the great conservation success stories of modern times. According to the IUCN, the global body which monitors the status of different species of flora and fauna around the world, this is “proof that the ambitious, collaborative efforts of governments, business and civil society could turn back the tide of species loss”.

“Following on from the census results, this is another piece of wonderful news,” says Gorilla Organization Director Jillian Miller. “It’s testament to the tireless work of the brave men and women who risk their lives every day to keep gorillas safe in their natural habitat, and also further proof that a joined-up approach to conservation is delivering results. That means working with local communities in Africa to halt and reverse habitat loss, while also supporting vital ranger patrols to keep gorillas safe from immediate threats like poaching and insecurity.”

The latest changes to the IUCN’s Red List of threatened species were made following extensive collaboration with conservationists working on-the-ground in Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo, the only three countries where mountain gorillas are found. As well as looking at overall numbers, it also considers recent and ongoing trends. That’s why all other sub-species of gorilla remain classified as ‘critically endangered’, or just one step away from being lost for good.

Western lowland gorilla, eastern lowland gorilla and Cross River gorilla numbers have all been dropping steadily over recent years as varied threats, including poaching, hunting and habitat destruction, take their toll. None of these sub-species enjoy the same level of protection that mountain gorillas do, while there are fears that upcoming elections in DR Congo could place gorillas and other wildlife at heightened risk should political violence and insecurity spread into the protected natural reserves.