26 November 2012

Protected Gorilla Population Rises

The world’s population of mountain gorillas has increased by more than 10 percent in just two years, most likely thanks to conservation efforts that have successfully engaged the local Ugandan community.

Only a few decades ago ... conservationists predicted that mountain gorillas could be extinct by the end of the 20th century. War, habitat destruction, poaching and disease threatened their population. But since 2010, Uganda’s remaining 786 mountain gorillas have grown their population to 880.

Conservationists think the success story stems from balancing species survival with the needs of local people. Rather than exclude people from the landscape, park managers instead figured out ways to supplement harmful activities with sustainable ones. For example, firewood collection once threatened the gorillas’ habitat, so to get around this conservationists provided communities with access to alternative energy sources so they would no longer have to rely upon forest-harvested wood. They also created jobs for community members to act as ecotourist guides.

Endangered mountain gorillas aren’t out of the woods just yet, however. Habitat loss, disease transfer from humans and entanglement from hunting snares still threaten their populations.

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