Heroic efforts by park guards have helped safeguard isolated population
An isolated population of rare Grauers gorillas, living among rebel armies and bands of poachers, has managed to survive in one of the most dangerous regions in Africa, and may even be increasing in numbers, according to a recent census by the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). WCS conservationists say that a band of park guards who have heroically defended the gorillas and their rainforest home in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, have played a key role in safeguarding these endangered primates.
The census, led by WCS project director Innocent Liengola, counted 168 gorillas living in the mountain highlands of Kahuzi-Biega National Park. Most encouragingly, a number of the groups had infants. A census under difficult conditions in 2000 estimated 120 to 130 animals in the same area. Preliminary surveys from other regions in the park and outlying areas have also shown these rare large primates to continue to persist, despite some recent reports that the animals are nearing extinction.
"The fact that this Grauers gorilla population may actually be increasing is a tribute to the park guards who have stood their ground against rebel armies and poachers. They are true conservation heroes," said WCS Conservationist Dr. Jeffferson Hall, who conducted the first-ever Grauers gorilla census in 1996. "Im absolutely convinced that if the guards did not remain in Kahuzi Biega, there would be no animals left."
Stephen Sautner | EurekAlert!
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