More than 20,000 Western lowland gorillas could die within months if outbreak confirmed
Scientists fear that emerging evidence may suggest a new outbreak of the Ebola virus, which, in addition to threatening human lives, would threaten tens of thousands of great apes – in this case gorillas and chimpanzees – in the Republic of Congo. The announcement was made by the International Primatological Society (IPS) and Great Ape Survival Project (GRASP) at the IPSs 20th Congress, being held this week in Turin, Italy.
Congos Odzala National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, contains an estimated 30,000 western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), the largest such population of the endangered species in the world. Until late last year, hundreds could regularly be spotted in Lokoue Bai, a natural clearing in the park where separate groups of the gorillas predictably congregated. But whereas 45 groups of gorillas (each with an average of eight individuals) were once normally observed there, the number since May has plummeted to only nine groups.
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