Welcome to the Western Gorilla Resource center, an online reference guide to learn about the plight of the western gorillas. The western gorilla is one of the only two species of gorillas left in the whole world. These great apes are left in only 8 countries in Africa ie Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. Less attention has been given to the western gorillas since they seem to be more in numbers than their counterparts the Eastern gorillas. This resource aims disseminating information about these great apes so that they can be conserved for the future generations as well. This guide offers unparalleled insight into the threats faced by western gorillas in the wild.
This website is currently maintained on a voluntary basis, and welcomes contributions from all researchers and conservationists working across the western gorilla geographic range. It run by an informal alliance of gorilla researchers and conservationists. We are eyewitnesses to a tragedy that most of the world knows little about: the rapid decline of Western gorillas, which only a decade ago were thought to be relatively safe. We have watched with increasing dismay as conservation efforts have failed to address the major cause of Western gorilla decline, the commercial trade in gorilla meat. We believe that saving Western gorillas will require a dramatic change in conservation strategy: a drastic increase in the budget for law enforcement. Unfortunately, law enforcement is a controversial activity that donors and decision makers are hesitant to embrace. Only strong public support for increased law enforcement is likely to catalyze a change. Please help us in pushing for changes that will ensure that our children live in a world with wild gorillas.
Get to Know the Western Gorillas
The vast majority of the world’s gorillas live in the forests of central west Africa, not in the mountains of east Africa. Western gorillas occur in the lowland tropical rain forests of central west Africa. Gorillas occur throughout the forested parts of Gabon, Congo, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Central African Republic with outlier populations in the Cross River region on the border of Nigeria and Cameroon, and in Cabinda, Angola and south-western Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
<strong>Conservation Strategy for Western Gorillas</strong>
A conservation strategy is a series of inter-related activities that are required to address the threats faced by western gorillas. The intensity of threats varies between populations: some such as the Cross River gorillas of Nigeria and Cameroon are already critically endangered while others remain less immediately threatened for the moment. The alarming thing is that despite increased conservation investment over the past decade, populations are declining throughout the range of western gorillas and given this, no populations can be considered as safe over the long term.
Dwindling Populations of the Western Gorilla
The population of the western gorilla has declined rapidly over the past decade. Published estimates usually range between 90,000 and 110,000 individuals, with the population spread across the lowland tropical forests of Western Equatorial Africa, but this figure is outdated and now considered to be grossly exaggerated. The true figure is likely to be substantially lower with declines of up to 50% estimated to have occurred in the remaining western gorilla strongholds over the past decade. The commercial bushmeat trade, combined with epidemics of the Ebola haemorrhagic fever is the driving force behind this alarming decline in numbers.
Conservation of the Western Gorilla
Current conservation efforts do not adequately address the cause of the major decline in western gorilla populations. Immediate improvements in law enforcement could dramatically reduce the impact of the commercial trade in bushmeat on western gorillas. The hunting of western gorillas is already illegal in all range states, but in many places these laws are not being enforced. Furthermore, extensive resources are required to identify appropriate conservation actions in the face of the spread of Ebola.
In May 2005, a workshop was held in Brazzaville to establish a strategy to counter the decline in Great Ape populations across western equatorial Africa, and to identify partners and donors who might contribute to the implementation of this strategy.
The expert group included biologists, veterinarians, protected areas managers, government ofﬁcials and representatives of national and international non-governmental organizations.
As part of this strategy, a list of priority areas for Great Ape protection was developed. These priority areas were selected according to criteria such as population size, size of available habitat, and the importance of different sites for biodiversity in general.
This process resulted in a list of sites that were considered to be either ‘Exceptional Areas’ or ‘Important Areas’, while a third category (‘Priority Areas for Surveys’) identified a list of sites which are believed to be very important for ape conservation, but for which population data does not exist. Surveys are thus an urgent priority in these areas.