Once on the brink of extinction, mountain gorillas continue to grow in number.
A recent survey documented 459 mountain gorillas ( Gorilla beringei beringei), the largest number of mountain gorillas ever recorded in the transboundary Bwindi – Sarambwe ecosystem, one of the two remaining areas where this Endangered great ape is still found.
When combined with the published figure of 604 mountain gorillas from the Virunga Massif as detected as od 2016, the Global figure of known mountain gorillas increases to 1,063.
In the area encompassing Bwindi impenetrable National Park, Uganda and Sarambwe Nature Reserve, DRC an area of 340kmsq, 459 individual gorillas were found in 50 groups and 13 solitary individuals. This is compared with an estimated 400 individual gorillas in 36 groups and as 16 solitary individuals from a survey of the same area in 2011.
This is the fifth population count for this area and the first to include Sarambwe Nature Reserve
As in the previous mountain gorilla census conducted in the Virunga Massid, survey teams walked predetermined “recces” (reconnaissance trails) ensuring a thorough coverage of all forest areas to sweep the Bwindi – Sarambwe and search for signs of gorillas, other key mammals, and human activities. When fresh gorilla signs were detected, the teams followed the gorilla trail to locate three recent night nest sites. At each of these nest sites. The teams collected fecal samples from nests. The process was completed twice: first from March to May 2018( 62 days) and second from October to December 2018 (60 Days). A second Sweep allows to find gorillas that were un detected during the first sweep and thus provides more reliable numbers of Gorillas. Fecal Samples were analyzed genetically to determine individual genotypes
The survey teams also collected data on signs and sightings of selected mammals, such as chimpanzees and elephants, and human activities, such as snares or tree cutting. While exercising cautions due to the limitations of the study, there were no indications of declines in populations for the selected mammals surveyed, including elephants, since 2011.
The survey was conducted by the Protected Area Authorities of Uganda and DRC (Uganda Wildlife Authority and I’Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature, respectively) under the Frame wok of the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration with Support from Rwanda Development Board and many other partners and donors.