I have some bittersweet news to share with you. If you’re a regular reader of this site, you may know that gorilla populations have been reported as severely endangered. Most of the problems stem from deforestation and poverty. People chop down trees in Africa and ultimately ruin the ecosystems that support these great apes for money. The bush meat industry, regional violence, and infectious pathogens are also a major influence on the dwindling gorilla populations.
Well, some good news for gorilla conservation came out this week from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), researches shared census reports at the International Primatological Society Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland. Thanks to Paul Wren for sending me the news. The census data includes a large secluded population (approximately 125,00) of gorillas have resided in two adjacent areas in the northern part of the Republic of Congo, covering an area of 18,000 square
miles (47,000 square kilometers). So why did such a large number of gorillas go uncounted for?
“WCS says a combination of factors account for such high numbers of gorillas, including successful long-term management of the Republic of Congo’s protected areas; remoteness and inaccessibility of some of the key locations where the gorillas were found; and a habitat where there is plenty to eat, particularly in some of the swamp forests and the “Marantaceae” forests, which are rich in herbs.”
But, this population is only Western lowland gorillas, which are one of four recognized gorilla subspecies. Regardless of this new populations, all subspecies are still considered endangered. Which leads me to this other news piece, where the title basically says it all, “Nearly half of all the world’s primates at risk of extinction.”
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has put out another census report, similar to the WCS, which reports that primate conservation efforts are being drowned out by the bush meat and logging industry. You may remember last year’s census report, where the ‘red list’ was dominated by primate species in the three highest threat categories. In this year’s report, 303 of the 634 primate species are endangered. In other words, 9% more primates species are threatened compared to last year.
Despite the good news of this large population of gorillas in the Republic of Congo, primate conservation is still very much necessary. I’ve been reading some ignoramus comments posted on this blog by people in support of bush meat trade and illegal logging to help impoverished Africans… but these are not sustainable options for Africans. To add to that, when primates species go extinct, and they will so long as advocates support bush meat trade and deforestation, there will be an ecological collapse — what will Africans do for food, money, etc. then? I propose alternatives, which many are already doing, train impoverished Africans to protect and preserve their natural resources. Not only will jobs be created, but conservation efforts will be more successful.