On Tuesday, 27 January 2009, D.R of Congo's Virunga National Park authorities issued a press release declaring that the population of habituated – or human tolerant – mountain gorillas in the Park had increased by 12.5% in the last 18 months (from August 2007 to January 2009) despite the fierce fighting that has engulfed the Mikeno Gorilla Sector inside the Virunga. The Mikeno Sector is the only place in the Democratic Republic of Congo where Mountain Gorilla, Gorilla gorilla beringei, is to be found.
Paula Kahumbu rejoiced at these news in the Gorilla Protection blog at WildlifeDirect and relayed the press release in that blog post. The release says that there are now 81 individuals in the habituated groups – including 10 new infants – up from the 72 counted in 2007. The press release said:
During the 16-month period from August 2007 to late January 2009, 10 baby gorillas were born into 4 of the habituated families – the Kabirizi, Mapuwa, Lulengo and Mapuwa families – and 2 adult female gorillas previously non-identified (from non-habituated groups) have joined habituated gorilla families. Three gorillas that had been previously identified in the August 2007 census have not been found and are listed as missing.
More than 50 Park Rangers conducted over 128 patrols during the census and apart from counting the habituated gorillas, they estimated a non-habituated gorilla population of 120 individuals, thus indicating that the gorilla population in the 250 kilometre square Mikeno Sector now stands at 211.
The world population of gorillas in the wild is estimated to be 720 individuals and an increase of about 9 gorillas in this sector is indeed great news coming at a time when scientist have indicated that in Uganda the mountain gorilla population may have declined by about 10%.
You can read the entire press release as relayed in Gorilla Protection blog.