The eastern lowland gorilla isn’t doing well. It’s now critically endangered

A causa della caccia e della guerra civile in Congo questa specie è ora classificata “in pericolo critico” dalla Lista rossa della Iucn.

The eastern lowland gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri) is the biggest ape on Earth and one of our closest relative in the animal kingdom. The height and strength of these primates (a silverback can reach 180cm of height and 160kg of weight), however, won’t be enough to protect them from extinction. The latest report of the Wildlife Conservation Society shows that this subspecies of eastern gorilla, which roams only in the forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, could become extinct within just a few years if proper measures aren’t taken.

eastern lowland gorilla iucn
The eastern lowland gorilla is a subspecies of gorilla native to the forests of Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda

Poaching, habitat loss and civil war. Why gorillas are dying out

Over only 20 years – between 1995 and 2015 – the eastern lowland gorilla population has dropped by 77 per cent, decreasing from 17,000 individuals to only 3,800. The main causes of this dramatic decline are poaching, land clearing, and the ongoing bloody civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Ranger nel parco nazionale Virunga
A ranger in Virunga National Park. Armed groups in the forests in the Congo make difficult to promote tourism based on gorilla sighting, which could help save the species (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

IUCN updates its red list of threatened species

The Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) earlier classified the species as endangered. But it now lists it as critically endanger, only one step away from extinction. The conservation of primates is one of the main topics at the IUCN World Conservation Congress currently taking place in Honolulu, Hawaii, until the 10th of September. “To see the eastern gorilla – one of our closest cousins – slide towards extinction is truly distressing,” said Inger Andersen, IUCN director general. “It is our responsibility to enhance our efforts to turn the tide and protect the future of our planet.”

gorilla iucn
Deforestation has dramatically reduced the eastern lowland gorilla’s habitat

Most of great apes are endangered

The eastern lowland gorilla is, unfortunately, not alone. Four of the six species of great apes are threatened with extinction: the eastern gorilla (Gorilla beringei), the western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), the Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), and the Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii). Bad news not only comes for primates, though. Of the over 82,000 animal species assessed by the IUCN, almost 30 per cent are close to being wiped out forever due to human-related activities.

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