Sad gorillas, mad gorillas, crazy pirate gorillas, all running through the streets of London. What is going on? It is the annual Great Gorilla Run, sponsored by The Gorilla Organization. Here is the sad thing though: there were almost as many runners costumed as gorillas in London this weekend as there are mountain gorillas left in the wild.
Click the extended to see the best photos and learn seven ways The Gorilla Organization is working to help gorillas survive in the wild.
The Gorilla Organization was originally inspired by the work of Dian Fossey with mountain gorillas. It evolved from The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Europe, and now works to protect all species of gorillas.
More than 600 people joined the costumed race. If that does not seem like a major event, ponder for a moment that only 720 mountain gorillas survive in the wild.
The run was started by children's television presenter Helen Skelton, inspired by the antics of gorilla-runner Rory Coleman. Like Forrest Gump, Rory just started running. One difference: the gorilla suit he wore along the route from his home in Nottinghamshire to London attracted police attention. Media attention grew, and Rory arrived in London followed, like Forrest Gump, by crowds of runners joining his cause.
This year is the Year of the Gorilla, but the seventh year of the Great Gorilla Run. Fundraisers have collected more than 130,000 pounds and will continue raising money until November.
The Gorilla Organization uses monies raised on projects with demonstrated effectiveness at preserving the precious habitats upon which mountain gorillas depend, while promoting the economic welfare of the people who share that environment. From the Great Gorilla Run press release:
- In Rwanda, 13 000 farmers have been trained in sustainable agriculture techniques so they can grow crops outside the protected areas.
- Local youths have produced environmentally-themed arts and crafts to raise awareness of issues and earn themselves money.
- The Gorilla Organization has built water cisterns in Rwanda and DR Congo which have provided communities with clean water, meaning improved health and no need to collect water from the forest.
- Fuel-efficient stoves reduce fuel consumption by up to 70%, reducing the amount of firewood taken from the forest. Workshops have been held in DR Congo showing local people how to make and use the stoves, and more than 500 have been made.
- Illegal mining in DR Congo has been a huge problem for gorilla habitat. Miners have been given training on ethical mining techniques.
- Wildlife clubs in Rwanda and Uganda have almost 30 000 young members involved in conservation activities.
- Beekeepers in Uganda have been helped with better equipment and investment to improve livelihoods and reduce the need to use forest resources.
You can help The Gorilla Organization get funding and recognition for the project 'Jiko Rescue: Stoves For Survival' by voting at www.theworldchallenge.co.uk. The project is competing as one of only 12 finalists in the World Challenge 09 competition run by BBC World News, Newsweek and Shell.
More on Gorillas:
2009: Year of the Gorilla
Endangered Gorillas Become Dinner for Rebels in the Congo
Keeping Gorillas In Our Midst
Mountain Gorillas Caught in the Middle of DR Congo Fighting
Vice TV Tracks Down 2 of the Few Remaining "Gorillas in the Midst"