A census of mountain gorillas due in March will likely show numbers have risen this decade, experts said during a ceremony to mark Rwanda’s expansion of its Volcanoes National Park. The park is set to increase by 27.8 hectares and tree seedlings were planted by a number of dignitaries to symbolise the beginning of the reforestation on 10 January.
The last global survey in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda in 2010 found just 480 individuals of the critically endangered mountain gorilla. Currently mountain gorillas are listed by the IUCN Red List as critically endangered. This assessment includes both the Virunga and the Bwindi subpopulations and takes into account mature individuals only.
Mountain Gorillas are threatened by poaching and illegal killings, political instability and the risk of disease transmission by humans or unregulated incursions into the gorillas’ habitat. Conservation efforts have helped the population recover to some extent - great news.
Eugene Mutangana, the head of conservation at the Rwandan Development Board (RDB), said an average of 18 baby mountain gorillas had been born each year in Rwanda since 2005, when the east African nation began naming them in an annual ceremony. Seven gorilla families have flourished and there are now as many as 20 gorilla families.
Rwanda is keen to encourage tourists to see the gorillas, with permits directly contributing to their conservation. However the governments decision to double the cost of permits last year from $750 to $1,500 has led to a decline in visitor numbers, with many favouring neighbouring Uganda instead.
To find out more about gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda please follow the links below.
Rwanda - Volcanoes National Park and sample gorilla trekking trips
Uganda - Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and sample gorilla trekking trips
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