More than 100,000 rare gorillas found in
An estimated 125,000 Western lowland gorillas are living in a swamp in equatorial
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
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
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
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
'We know very little about Ebola and how it spreads,' he said. 'We don
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.