How will climate change likely affect the montane forests that are home to the highly endangered mountain gorilla? Experts gathering in Rwanda are exploring that question with the aim of developing conservation measures that will ensure the survival of Africa's gentle giant. Copyright Craig R. Sholley
VIRUNGA HEARTLAND--How is climate change impacting the mountain gorilla and its conservation? This question is being investigated in the first organized workshop focusing specifically on the relationship between the highly endangered mountain gorilla, which has an estimated population of only 680 individuals, and climate change in the gorilla's habitat, which consists of the Virunga Volcanoes and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.
Entitled "The Implications of Global Climate Change for Mountain Gorilla Conservation in the Albertine Rift," the workshop kicked off this week in the Rwandan town of Gisenyi and will continue through February 17, 2010.
Organized and led by the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP), and EcoAdapt, participants include representatives of local, regional, and international governmental and nongovernmental agencies involved in gorilla protection, technical specialists including climate modelers, climatologists, gorilla biologists, and forestry and ecology experts, as well as social scientists working in the region.
The meeting seeks not only to share knowledge on climate change across organizations and government agencies focusing on mountain gorilla conservation, but also to build adaptation strategies into current and future mountain gorilla conservation efforts. Climate change modeling results for the region will be integrated into discussions on gorilla health, regional socioeconomic issues, gorilla ecology, and regional forest and biodiversity issues in the gorillas' home range.
AWF through IGCP (a coalition AWF formed in 1991 with the World Wide Fund for Nature and Fauna & Flora International) has already taken action on climate change in mountain gorilla habitat with an ongoing study in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo that focuses on gorilla foods and other plant life in the Mikeno sector of the park, which is home to approximately 200 gorillas. The study will be expanded in the coming years to include gorilla ranges in Rwanda and Uganda.
Read more about the climate change workshop taking place in Rwanda.
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