Numbers of the critically endangered mountain gorilla are on the up, following conservation efforts in the transboundary Virunga Massif, one of the two remaining areas where the great ape is still found.
Survey results released today reveal that numbers in this area have increased to 604 from an estimated 480 in 2010, including 41 social groups along with 14 solitary males in the transboundary area. This brings the global wild population of mountain gorillas to an estimated 1,004 when combined with published figures from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (where the rest of the subspecies is found) and makes it the only great ape in the world that is considered to be increasing in population.
The findings are the result of intensive surveying coordinated by the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration and supported by the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP – a coalition programme of Fauna & Flora International and WWF) along with other partners.
The census involved twelve teams – comprising people from more than 10 institutions – which covered over 2,000 km of difficult, forested terrain systematically searching the mountain gorilla habitat for signs of the animals, recording nest sites and collecting faeces samples for genetic analysis. The teams also looked for evidence of threats to gorillas and other wildlife.