Intense Monitoring Shows Hope for Mountain Gorillas

Dian Fossey, American primatologist who passed away in 1985, predicted that mountain gorillas would go extinct by the year 2000 due to the rising rates of poaching and deforestation in central Africa. Luckily, Fossey’s prediction did not come true. A conservation campaign has given a second chance to mountain gorillas which share about 98% of human DNA.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has changed the status of mountain gorillas from “critically endangered” to “endangered” last fall. This was made possible by an intervention that some biologists call “extreme conservation.” It has “entailed monitoring every single gorilla in the rainforest, periodically giving them veterinary care — to clean infected wounds, for instance — and funding forest protection by sending money into communities that might otherwise resent not being able to convert the woods into cropland.”

The number of mountain gorillas has risen from 680 in 2009 to over 1,000 today. According to George Schaller, renowned biologist and gorilla expert, “the population of mountain gorillas is still vulnerable. But their numbers are now growing, and that’s remarkable.”

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