Gains in the Virunga national park of the DRC are encouraging but threats continue

For the last 3 years there has been a significant baby boom in the forests of the Virungas. This is highly encouraging for the long term survival of the mountain gorillas that live here.

Unfortunately many threats remain. Parts of the park are potentially about to be reclassified for mining, and there are invading armed groups in various parts of the forest.

Currently, the DRC section of the park contains roughly 350 gorillas, though this number includes all mountain and lowland gorillas. However, the armed groups often make money by hunting wildlife both for bushmeat and the pet trade.

In recent years, Mountain gorillas have been moved from critically endangered, to the endangered list. However, this generally is in relation to the reduction of the population over the last few years. If the population reaches a small size, then reductions of any level are likely to wipe them out. This has not happened, thankfully, but given a population of only 350 animals, it is foolish to think that this wildlife population is out of danger, quite the contrary, it would take very little for this population to disappear – STILL and so we must not relax.

Current threats thought to exist for the park long term, do not worry about poaching, so much as land lost to oil and mineral extraction. Remember that an area can be deforested in a matter of a few weeks, it can take a century for the forest to return.

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