Victims of a New African Massacre: Gorillas

Apr 25, 2016

By Rachel Nuwer

The Grauer’s gorilla, the world’s largest primate, has been a source of continual worry for conservationists for more than two decades. Longstanding conflict in the deep jungles of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo left experts with no choice but to guess at how that gorilla subspecies may be faring.

Now, with tensions abating somewhat, researchers finally have an updated gorilla head count — one that confirms their fears. According to findings compiled by an international team of conservationists, Grauer’s gorilla populations have plummeted 77 percent over the last 20 years, with fewer than 3,800 of the animals remaining.

“We suspected that the Grauer’s gorilla had declined because of all the insecurity in the region, but no one had an idea of how much they’d declined by,” said Andrew Plumptre, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Albertine Rift Program in Central and Eastern Africa. “It turns out that the rate of collapse pushes this subspecies to the verge of extinction.”

Grauer’s gorillas — named after Rudolf Grauer, an Austrian explorer and zoologist who first recognized the apes as a separate subspecies — resemble their close relative, the mountain gorilla, save for their longer limbs and shorter hair. Although Grauer’s and mountain gorilla populations were once connected, years of isolation have left them genetically distinct enough to warrant separate designations as eastern gorilla subspecies.

In 1994, the Wildlife Conservation Society conducted surveys in and around Kahuzi-Biega National Park, in what was then eastern Zaire. Researchers estimated that 17,000 Grauer’s gorillas remained. But the Rwandan genocide that year led to the gorillas’ precipitous decline.

Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.

3 comments on “Victims of a New African Massacre: Gorillas

  • What to do?

    Educating consumers who buy electronic devices is probably the best thing we can do to help these gorillas, to encourage shoppers to seek out electronics that use conflict free Coltan.

    In 2008 I created a web site to present to consumers, of cell phones and computers, a catalog of companies that use conflict free Coltan in their devices. A number of factors have obstructed the creation of the website, such as African civil wars, shady Coltan business practices in Europe/World, and a few car accidents that have overly complicated my life since 2008. might get made someday, but currently the World’s technology’s mining and transport industries lack credible infrastructure and evidence to support any claim of 100% conflict free Coltan. If I called various companies, to inquire about the source of their Coltan, I would have no method to audit their network to confirm the truth. When I find a company that can honestly track how their electronic components are made, I will broadcast and advertise their products as being Gorillasafe. Until such a time, the iPhone and Android have the competitive advantage with a robust genetic fitness (GF), and the potentially doomed Congo gorilla’s GF will likely make a nice page of historic note in Ian Redmond’s diary. If we collectively can’t convince humans to stop texting on their iPhone while driving a car, to avoid accidents, how on Earth will the average brain find the common sense to care about a gorilla, let alone the humans who also suffer due to Coltan conflict?

    If you’re in the business, or have access to officially verify authenticity, of Coltan and capacitors made from conflict free zones, leave a note with Mr. Redmond’s office. Ian works to protect the gorillas. Maybe with collective effort, from the right places, we can get this web page up and working, to encourage credible retailers to label their products gorillasafe? Until such an entity exists that can audit the World’s Coltan network, for claim validation about conflict free Coltan, I’ll rely upon Mr. Redmond, and a conservation project called, for any useful information. Aside, Dr. Sara Lourie (of chimp-n-sea) has a new book recently published, titled: Seahorses A Life-Size Guide to Every Species.

    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.