August 05, 2008

This is very exciting news about the Congo...for once!

More than 100,000 rare gorillas found in Congo


An estimated 125,000 Western lowland gorillas are living in a swamp in equatorial Africa, researchers reported Tuesday, double the number of the endangered primates thought to survive worldwide.

'It's pretty astonishing,' Hugo Rainey, one of the researchers who conducted the survey for the U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society, told CNN Tuesday.

The last census on the species, carried out during the 1980s, estimated that there were only 100,000 of the gorillas left worldwide. Since then, the researchers estimated, the numbers had been cut in half.

WCS survey teams conducted the research in 2006 and 2007, traveling to the remote Lac Tele Community Reserve in northern Republic of Congo, a vast area of swamp forest.

Acting on a tip from hunters who indicated the presence of gorillas, Rainey said that the researchers trekked on foot through mud for three days to the outskirts of Lac Tele, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the nearest road.

'When we went there, we found an astonishing amount of gorillas,' said Rainey, speaking from the International Primatological Society Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Though researchers did spot some gorillas, they based their estimate on the number of gorilla nests found at the site, Rainey said. Each gorilla makes a nest to sleep in at night.

'This is the highest-known density of gorillas that's ever been found,' Rainey said.

Western lowland gorillas are listed as critically endangered, the highest threat category for a species. Their populations are declining rapidly because of hunting and diseases like Ebola hemorrhagic fever, whose symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and internal and external bleeding.

While the discovery in northern Congo indicates that the gorilla population remains stable in some areas, it is likely that gorillas will remain critically endangered because the threats facing the species are so great, Rainey said.

'We know very little about Ebola and how it spreads,' he said. 'We don't even know the animal that spreads it around.'

The goal now, Rainey said, is to work with the Congolese government and donors to protect the areas in which the gorillas are known to be living.


1 comment:

johnwilpers said...


My name is John Wilpers. I am the Global Blog Development Director of a new organization called Global News Enterprises, a group dedicated to providing the very best international reporting. We are set to launch in January of 2009 with more than 70 correspondents in more than 50 countries around the world (more information at

My job is to find the world's very best bloggers (in English, anyway) writing from or about 53 countries around the world (we'll be adding more countries as the company expands).

I saw your blog (I'd love to have Matt's Life, too, by the way!), and was hoping you might be able to direct me to what you consider the best bloggers writing about the DRC these days.

And, if you're interested in resuming your "coverage" of the DNR, would you like to be considered?

Sorry for the abrupt nature of my "introduction," but I really liked your writing and photography and your clear passion for the Congo, so I thought you might be interested in our project.