Western lowland gorillas are the only gorillas legally held in zoos outside their home range in Equatorial Africa. At the end of 2015 how many are left in the wild? Answer: We simply don’t know — our conservation strategies are based on 20 year old guesses. Thus, the commonly cited figure of 95,000 western gorillas (Harcourt 1996) is based on an assumption that all intact habitat in Western Equatorial Africa contains gorillas at densities that were typical of Gabon in the early 1980s. Looking at their survival trajectory (below) and considering recent outbreaks of infectious disease such as Ebola (yes, gorillas die from Ebola: Since the early 1990s, Ebola has caused a series of massive gorilla and chimpanzee die-offs in remote forest blocks at the heart of their range.) Western lowland gorilla survival in wild is a key conservation question?
2007–Critically Endangered (CR)
According to IUCN, “perhaps 20 to 30 years into the future, habitat loss and degradation from agriculture, timber extraction, mining, and possibly climate change will become a major threat. Thus, a population reduction of more than 80% over three generations is likely.”
Photo P1130382 – rescued as young male, now silverback, Western lowland gorilla at Limbe Wildlife Center, Cameroon
Notes & Sources
2015-2016 Global research and reporting on great apes made possible in part through the generous financial support of the Philadelphia Zoo