"Planet of the Apes" Discovered in Republic of Congo


photo: WCS

The Wildlife Conservation Society has announced that it has discovered a veritable planet of the apes in the Republic of Congo. New census data shows that more than 125,000 western lowland gorillas are alive and well in at 18,000 square mile area in the north of the country. Previous estimates, done in the 1980s, showed less than 100,000 gorillas in the region, and it had been believed that the numbers had declined by half since then.
One of the Highest Gorilla Densities Ever Recorded
From WCS:

The new census was the result of intensive fieldwork carried out by the Bronx Zoo-based WCS and the Government of Republic of Congo. The researchers combed rainforests and isolated swamps to count gorilla "nests" to accurately estimate the population. Gorillas construct nests each night from leaves and branches for sleeping. Population densities ranged as high as eight individuals per square kilometer in one particularly rich forest patch, which ranks as among the highest gorilla density ever recorded.

Conservation Is Key
Dr. Stephen Sanderson, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society, says this discovery shows the power that conservation programs such as those implemented in the Republic of Congo can have. "This discovery should be a rallying cry for the world that we can protect other vulnerable and endangered species, whether they be gorillas in Africa, tigers in India, or lemurs in Madagascar," says Sanderson.

:: Wildlife Conservation Society
Globally, Primates Still Endangered
This news comes, via the BBC, at the same time that 48% of primate species face extinction globally. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the main threat to primates is habitat loss due to clearing of tropical forests.

The nations with the highest percentage of threatened species are Cambodia (90%), Vietnam (86%), Indonesia (84%), Laos (83%), and China (79%).

Jean-Christophe Vie, deputy head of the IUCN Species Programme, says, "It is quite spectacular; we are just wiping out primates. The problem with these species is that they have long lives, so it takes time to reverse the decline. It is quite depressing."

Of the 634 recognized species of primates, 11% are listed as Critically Endangered, 22% Endangered, and 15% Vulnerable. Critically Endangered, according to Red List definition, means the species has a high risk of extinction, with some species listed as Possibly Extinct.

via :: BBC News
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Tags: Africa | Conservation | Deforestation | Endangered Species