Monday, April 28, 2008

Eastern Gorilla


Recent attacks on Eastern gorillas (Gorilla beringei) in the mountains of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have put a spotlight on this gentle giant. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda are the only places left in the world where the Eastern gorilla survives today.

In 1995, about 16,000 Eastern gorillas were estimated to wander the forests of Eastern Afromontane Biodiversity Hotspot and eastern edge of the Congo Basin High-Biodiversity Wilderness Area. Today, after a decade of losses, scientists are unsure how many remain. Throughout their range, populations have been reduced, fragmented, or completely lost as result of targeted poaching for bushmeat and deforestation.

The mountain gorillas are the most well-known of the Eastern gorillas. These distinct populations, numbering around 700 individuals, are a key tourist attraction and source of hope for fragile economies emerging from years of conflict in the region. They are an example of where humans and conservation can co-exist and benefit, even in an area with some of the highest densities of humans on the planet.

Until the recent attacks, some populations were held up as a rare conservation success for Africa’s great apes. Some areas saw population numbers increase thanks to coordinated conservation efforts of the last decade. In DRC’s first community-run nature reserve, Tayna Gorilla Reserve, supported by CI and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, scientists reported larger than previously recorded populations, once feared to be at risk of extinction.

The story is far bleaker for its close relative, the Western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), which has suffered even greater losses as a result of heavy commercial poaching and increasing Ebola outbreaks due to increased contact with humans. These threats have been driven by commercial logging which has increased access to populations that were once isolated. The IUCN now classifies the Western gorilla as Critically Endangered.

WHAT: The Tayna Gorilla Reserve in Pictures
CI is working with partners and local communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo to protect gorillas in the Tayna Gorilla Reserve. Take a closer look at this partnership.

HOW: An Expedition through Congo
CI President Russ Mittermeier traveled to Congo with a group of conservationists to experience gorillas in their natural habitat. Explore Congo's national parks with Russ and learn more about how these gentle giants live.

HOW: GCF Partners to Protect Eastern Lowland Gorillas
The Global Conservation Fund and its partners are supporting community-initiated reserves that are creating a vast new wildlife corridor between two national parks – Maiko and Kahuzi-Beiga – so the gorillas can move safely through the landscape.

WHERE: Explore the Congo Basin
The Congo Basin is the second-largest tropical wilderness on our planet – only the Amazon is larger. The Basin is primary home of the threatened gorilla and numerous other interesting species. Learn more.

Did You Know? There Are Two Species of Gorilla Alive Today.
The Western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) is found in the forests of west Africa, while the Eastern gorilla (Gorilla beringei) is found in the lowlands and mountains of central-Eastern Africa.

Both species are highly threatened by habitat loss and hunting, but the Western gorilla has been placed under greater risk from Ebola, which has killed humans and apes alike in some areas. The world-famous mountain gorillas that were studied by Dianne Fossey are considered by most experts to be a unique population of the Eastern gorilla.

Stabilizing Climate


When climate change is in the news, it is rarely talked about positively. Record-shattering droughts are leading to massive wildfires and battles over freshwater resources. Intense hurricanes and storms rampage coastlines and communities. Shifting and unreliable weather patterns are making farming and living more difficult for communities across the planet.
Underneath, they are the same story. Climate change is affecting the way we live. But the solution is clear: reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Every day is an opportunity to slow climate change and preserve life on Earth. Thankfully, the world is finally awakening to the urgency of this global issue. This new consciousness means that all of us – governments, industries, businesses, and individuals – have the opportunity to incorporate responsible environmental choices into the way we govern, build, design, buy, vote, and live. We need everyone to do their part.
There are ways to make an immediate impact. One significant way to mitigate climate change is to protect and restore forests, and we’re hard at work doing both. Burning and clearing forests contributes over one-fifth of total global greenhouse gas emissions – more than the emissions of all of the world’s cars, trucks, trains, and planes combined. In the Makira rain forest in Madagascar we have worked in conjunction with our partners to prevent more than 8 million tons of CO2 from entering our atmosphere. That’s equal to taking 145,000 cars off the road for 10 years. CI now has more than a dozen similar projects planned or underway around the world, all of which aim to find sustainable models for protecting biodiversity – models that also provide for human welfare.
And when it comes to the oceans, which absorb one-third of the carbon emitted into the atmosphere by fossil fuel, new studies are showing potential negative effects to corals and the species they support if the oceans continue to warm. In places like Madagascar and the Galapagos, we are studying the effects of climate on marine species and how these changes are impacting local communities that depend on healthy marine resources.
Climate change is tearing healthy ecosystems apart on land and in our oceans. Protecting these ecosystems is core to what we have done for more than 20 years. Together with our partners we are developing innovative global solutions that will help people and nature adapt to Earth's changing climate.


Thanks for helping to stop the clock on species extinction


On behalf of Conservation International, I would like to personally
thank you for joining with thousands of others to help stop the clock
on extinction and tell government leaders to incorporate forestry into
national development plans. Your involvement couldn't come at a
more important moment in our struggle to reverse decades of
biodiversity decline and loss. Together, we have
the opportunity to educate and mobilize people across the globe
into conservation action.

As you know, every 20 minutes, a species becomes extinct as more than
1,200 acres of forest are destroyed. At the same time, over 180,000
tons of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. Protecting and
restoring forests is a critical part of the global solution to climate
change and species extinction. We are taking this issue straight to
leaders from 189 countries at the international summit on climate
change in Bali, on December 13, and we will be bringing your
name with us.

As part of CI's conservation community, you are a key player in our
work. We hope that you'll use the online resources
at to help us build the alliances, encourage the
institutions, create the will, train the people, and deliver the
resources that will allow us to achieve conservation on an
unprecedented scale, for the good of our species, our climate, and our

Explore our new website!

Again, I want to thank you for adding your name and support to help
stop the clock on extinction. The active involvement of friends like
you is a cornerstone of our organization.


Vinnie Wishrad
Director, Online Community
Conservation International

2011 Crystal Drive, Suite 500
Arlington, VA 22202 Telephone: (703) 341-2400
Toll-free (within the US): 1(800) 406-2306