Since establishing the Mountain Gorilla Project as long ago as 1978, Fauna & Flora has played a central role in protecting these magnificent great apes from a barrage of threats including habitat loss and poaching. Our collaborative efforts to safeguard mountain gorillas have been richly rewarded, with the overall population recovering from the low hundreds and topping the 1,000 mark in 2018. How devastating would it be to see all that work undermined by our inability to prevent runaway climate change?
Erratic rainfall and fluctuating temperatures affect not just the gorillas’ food supply, but also the crops cultivated by the impoverished rural communities living on their doorstep. The entire world population of mountain gorillas is clinging to two tiny rafts of forest amid the volcanic peaks of Central Africa, surrounded by a sea of humanity. If drought, hunger and desperation force the human population to encroach further on this montane haven, the stranded gorillas have nowhere else to go.
The simple truth, of course, is that the impact of climate change on biodiversity is universal. One way or another, every single plant and animal on the planet is affected by climate change. Ultimately, the fate of every one of them, including our own species, hinges on how – and how quickly – we react to the current crisis.
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