The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International announced on November 13 that a new census of mountain gorillas in the Bwindi region showed a marked increase in numbers - a minimum of 400 individuals, up from 302 counted in thte 2006 census. This is great news for mountain gorillas, which are critically endangered in the last places on Earth that they still exist - parts of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Rwanda. This census took place in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda with a group of gorillas that is separate from the others that are being monitored in the area of the Virunga Volcanoes. When added together, the world total of gorillas has risen from 440 to 880.
These places are all familiar ground to Dr. Jan Ramer, the Indianapolis Zoo's associate veterinarian, who headed the team at the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project in 2009-2011. She commented on the news, "The wonderful results of the mountain gorilla census recently conducted in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are such a reward for the people in the region who work incredibly hard every day to protect the gorillas. Mountain Gorillas are the only great ape species increasing in numbers, but they remain critically endangered. In all three countries where mountain gorillas range, trackers visit the animals every day watching for signs of illness or injury, researchers help us better understand their social behavior and environmental requirements, rangers check tirelessly for snares and other illegal activities in the forest, and Gorilla Doctors are ready 24/7 to help in cases of snares or other illness or injury. I feel fortunate, and extremely honored to have been part of the conservation team working on behalf of these magnificent animals as a Gorilla Doctor from 2009 – 2011. The veterinarians, trackers, rangers and researchers still working in the region are my heroes."
Jan Ramer is one of our heroes, too, for her dedication to helping save these magnificent animals. She will be one of the Zoo staff intimately involved as we prepare for the opening of the International Orangutan Center in 2014, which is dedicated to saving another critically endangered great ape - the orangutan. Orangutans, like the mountain gorillas, have become isolated in only two countries in southeast Asia - Borneo and Sumatra. Faced with shrinking habitat, the orangutans are nearly at the point where it will become impossible to support the large home territories needed by these mostly solitary creatures to feed and find mates. The Zoo is currently supporting the work of Dr. Anne Russon in Borneo as she tries to expand the forest areas for the orangutans.
Read the full text of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International news release.
Mountain gorilla photo by Mike Crowther.
Orangutan photo by Great Ape Trust.