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Bwindi Has Fewer Mountain Gorillas than Previously Estimated, New Research Shows

  • Wednesday, January 28, 2009

VIRUNGA HEARTLAND, UGANDA--A new report published in the February issue of the scientific journal Biological Conservation reveals that the mountain gorilla population in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National park is likely lower than previously reported.

Bwindi's gorillas, previously estimated to number approximately 336 individuals, have now been estimated to number 302 individuals. The groundbreaking report was able to estimate a more accurate number by combining genetic and field data collected on the gorillas, whereas most previous censuses relied on field data only. Maryke Gray, an Information Officer with the International Gorilla Conservation Program (a coalition of the African Wildlife Foundation, Fauna and Flora International and the World Wide Fund for Nature), contributed to the research and is a report co-author.

"This study should be viewed as a technological advance in gorilla censusing techniques," stated Gray. "Because it is not comparable to the previous studies, we have no reason to believe that the population in Bwindi is declining, only that the count is now more accurate. While future studies of populations will surely benefit from this combined approach, it again reminds us of how fragile the mountain gorilla is. We must continue to combine advanced scientific techniques with bold and progressive conservation initiatives to ensure this incredible species both survives and thrives in its highly fragile remaining habitat."

Contributing to groundbreaking studies such as this one ensures that the International Gorilla Conservation Program remains a leader in great ape conservation. A coalition of the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), IGCP also works in close partnership with national park authorities the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN), the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN) to prevent and reduce the threats and challenges facing both the mountain gorillas and neighboring human communities.

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