14 November 2018

Rwanda: Mountain Gorillas Thrive as Conservation Efforts Pay Off

Collaborative conservation efforts across the country and positive engagement from communities living around the Mountain Gorilla habitat are bearing fruit.

According to Wednesday's statement from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Red List of Threatened Species TM, the Mountain Gorilla has moved from "Critically Endangered" threat level to "Endangered" thanks to collaborative conservation efforts.

"The 2008 Mountain Gorilla population was estimated to be around 680 individuals, but 2018 estimates show that it has increased to over 1,000 individuals, the highest figure ever recorded for the subspecies," the IUCN statement reads in part.

"The population growth has been confirmed through coordinated and improved survey methods".

It added that intensive conservation action, including anti-poaching patrols and on-site veterinary interventions such as the removal of snares, had contributed to the growth of Mountain Gorilla populations since the previous IUCN Red List assessment was published in 2008.

The gorilla habitat is restricted to protected areas covering approximately 792 square kilometres on the borders of Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.

The habitat is bordered by land intensively cultivated for agriculture by a growing human population.

Threats to this subspecies remain high, including poaching, recurring civil unrest and human-introduced diseases, ranging from respiratory infections to Ebola.

"Whilst it is fantastic news that Mountain Gorillas are increasing in number, this subspecies is still endangered and therefore conservation action must continue," said Dr Liz Williamson of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group.

"Coordinated efforts through a regional action plan and fully implementing IUCN Best Practice guidelines for great ape tourism and disease prevention, which recommend limiting numbers of tourists and preventing any close contact with humans, are critical to ensuring a future for the Mountain Gorilla," Williamson added.

According to Rwanda Development Board, the Government has put in place policies to ensure conservation of the mountain gorillas.

They include the effectiveness of conservation policies and strategies, regulated tourism, daily protection and veterinary interventions,

Others include intensive law enforcement, community conservation projects, transboundary collaboration, and tireless effort by the rangers and trackers who ensure the well-being of the gorillas.

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