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Gorillas are gentle giants and display many human-like behaviors and emotions, such as laughter and sadness. In fact, gorillas share The largest of the great apes, gorillas are stocky animals with broad chests and shoulders, large, human-like hands, and small eyes set into hairless faces. The two gorilla species live in equatorial Africa, separated by about miles of Congo Basin forest. Each has a lowland and upland subspecies. Gorillas live in family groups of usually five to 10, but sometimes two to more than 50, led by a dominant adult male—or silverback—who holds his position for years.
The bond between the silverback and his females forms the basis of gorilla social life. Males mature at an even greater age. Once a female begins to breed, she'll likely give birth to only one baby every four to six years and only three or four over her entire lifetime. This low rate of reproduction makes it difficult for gorillas to recover from population declines. Both gorilla species have been decreasing in s for decades, and a United Nations report suggests that they may disappear from large parts of the Congo Basin by the mids.
Conservation efforts by WWF, other organizations, and governments are making a difference for gorillas. New protected areas are being deated for some gorilla populations, and the population of mountain gorillas has continued to increase in recent years, leading to its downlisting from Critically Endangered to Endangered in November Gorillas share These charismatic, intelligent animals often surprise us with behaviors and emotions so similar to our human experience.
Gorillas are mainly vegetarian and spend almost half of the day feeding on stems, bamboo shoots, and a variety of fruits, supplemented with bark and invertebrates. Gorillas play a key role in maintaining the biodiversity of their forest homes by spreading the seeds of the trees they eat and by opening up gaps in the trees as they move around, letting in light and helping sun-loving plants grow.
In Central Africa, humans depend on the same environment as gorillas for their food, water, medicine, and other forest products.
Protecting the tropical forests of the Congo Basin where the gorillas live also conserves these forests and their resources on which the local and indigenous people of the region depend. The Congo Basin is home to the second largest tropical rainforest on Earth, which serves as the green heart of Africa. Moisture generated by this forest falls as rain in the United States, meaning that the impact of the loss of this forest will be felt globally.
Like humans, gorillas reproduce slowly, giving birth to only one baby at a time and then raising that infant for several years before giving birth again.
This slow reproduction rate makes gorillas especially vulnerable to any population declines. Habitat destruction is a problem across their central African range. Gorillas are also killed for the bushmeat trade, or accidently killed or maimed by iron snares that are set in the forests in search for other bushmeat species such as pigs red river hog. That trade has helped spread the Ebola virus, which is deadly to both gorillas and humans.
Efforts to protect gorillas are often hampered by weak law enforcement, lack of rule of law, and civil unrest in many places where gorillas live. That destruction continues as logging companies open up fast tracks of forest, forests are cleared to make space for subsistence farming or ape habitat becomes fragmented by road building. There is also a strong link between habitat loss and the bushmeat trade. As ly inaccessible forests are opened up by timber companies, commercial hunters gain access to areas where gorillas roam and often use logging vehicles to transport bushmeat to far away markets, as well as sell meat to employees of the logging companies.
The commercial trade in bushmeat, which occurs throughout west and central Africa, is the biggest threat to gorillas today. Apes are being killed primarily to supply high-end demand for meat in urban centers, where the consumption of ape meat is considered to be prestigious amongst the wealthy elite. Although gorillas may constitute only a small proportion of all animals killed for the bushmeat trade, they present easy targets for hunters, and in many areas gorillas are favored by hunters because of the weight of meat they can sell.
Gorillas' low reproductive rates means that even low levels of hunting can cause a population decline, which could take many generations to be reversed. Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe, infectious, often fatal disease that has devastated many African great ape populations. Scientists in estimated that a third of the wild gorilla population had been killed by the Ebola virus, and the species remain at risk. Additionally, because gorillas share so many traits with humans, they are susceptible to other human diseases.
Populations of gorillas that are in frequent contact with humans are particularly vulnerable to deadly respiratory infections. In mountain gorilla range, where gorillas frequently raid farms or come in contact with humans through tourism, they are susceptible to scabies, TB, and a host of other diseases from human transmission.
Both the killing of gorillas and trade in gorilla products are illegal across the animals' range, but due to weaknesses in law enforcement capacity and broader governance issues in some of the regions where the gorillas live, poachers, traders, and consumers are rarely apprehended. WWF also advocates for nations to more effectively enforce wildlife laws and raises awareness in local villages of the dangers of eating bushmeat. In addition, WWF has trained local wildlife authorities in modern methods of antipoaching and gorilla monitoring and provided equipment and provisions for antipoaching teams in several nations.
Ecotourism provides opportunities for protecting gorillas and their forest homes and for helping the local people. WWF has habituated gorilla groups to humans to develop opportunities for gorilla tourism. The program is the major employer of Indigenous people in the region and currently employs 60 people, including 45 indigenous Ba'Aka. Today, tourism is regaining its grounds and more investments are being made to further develop ecotourism in Dzanga-Sangha with the projection to attain at least 1, tourists annually by WWF conducts research into the ecology, distribution, and population biology of gorillas.
We also support research into the spread of diseases between humans and gorillas and the natural spread of diseases such as Ebola, as well as disease prevention. Habitat destruction is a concern for both eastern and westerns gorillas. WWF has worked to deate new protected areas for gorillas in many places, like in Cameroon, where gorilla sanctuaries would provide havens for the rare cross river gorilla as well as the western lowland gorilla. WWF also collaborates with local governments in the Congo Basin, logging companies, and international lending institutions to promote dialogue, encourage the best environmental practices and promote the adoption of forest certification standards such as the Forest Stewardship Council FSC certification.
Make a gift to WWF's global conservation efforts and choose from symbolic gorilla adoptions, apparel, and more! World Wildlife Fund Inc. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law. All rights reserved. Search Submit Search. Toggle Our Work Dropdown Links. Business Policy Partnerships Science. Toggle People Dropdown Links. Toggle Places Dropdown Links. Toggle Wildlife Dropdown Links. Toggle About Dropdown Links. Toggle How to help Dropdown Links.
Search Search Submit Search. Species Gorilla. Adopt a Gorilla. PopulationtoCongo Basin. Forest Habitat. The first rule of gorilla tracking? Continue Reading h More Stories h. Why They Matter. Our Closest Cousins Gorillas share Gorillas Help Maintain Forests Gorillas are mainly vegetarian and spend almost half of the day feeding on stems, bamboo shoots, and a variety of fruits, supplemented with bark and invertebrates. Protecting Gorilla Habitat Helps Humans In Central Africa, humans depend on the same environment as gorillas for their food, water, medicine, and other forest products. Threats PopulationtoHow You Can Help.
Take Action us to make change. Gorilla-themed Gifts Make a gift to WWF's global conservation efforts and choose from symbolic gorilla adoptions, apparel, and more! Log in. Washington, DCShort on funds females only text me
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