Western Lowland gorilla, Toronto Zoo, Ontario
Estimates from the 1980s placed the entire population, which occurs in seven Central African nations, at fewer than 100,000. Since then, scientists believed this number had dwindled by at least half, due to commercial hunting and disease, particularly outbreaks of the Ebola virus, which have extirpated gorillas from a great deal of otherwise intact forest. In early 2008, the estimate of the world’s population of critically endangered Western Lowland Gorillas received a boost with the discovery by WCS teams of large numbers of gorillas in remote and not easily accessible swamp forests in the northern part of the Republic of Congo, bringing the population estimates for north eastern Congo to 125,000. Current estimates of the total population are in the order of 150,000 -200,000 individuals.
Western Lowland Gorillas are a keystone species in their forest habitat, and so their protection is essential to the long-term management of the Congo basin, now recognized as a globally important factor in inter-continental weather patterns and for maintaining climate stability. The COMIFAC Convergence Plan and the efforts of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, which aim for the coordinated management of the whole Congo Basin Ecosystem, must recognize that gorilla conservation is integral to their programme of work. Now that payment for the eco-system services provided by the Congo Basin to the rest of the planet – including carbon sequestration and storage, rainfall generation and bio-diversity – is being seriously considered, it is essential that the ecological role of gorillas is taken into account.
CMS: Gorillas listed on Appendix I of the CMS since 2005.
CITES: The Gorilla has been on the Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) since 1975.
ACCNNR : Gorilla is also listed in A class in the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in 1969.
The Gorilla Agreement: a treaty under the CMS, negotiated in October 2007, came into force 1st June 2008.
National laws for control of hunting and capture exist in all countries with gorilla populations, but a lack of funds and inaccessibility make widespread enforcement of this legislation rare.