31 May 2018 Press release Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Number of Mountain Gorillas Rise in Virunga Massif

  • The mountain gorilla census in Virunga Massif are showing the largest number of mountain gorillas ever recorded: 604
  • The increase in mountain gorilla numbers is an indicator of successful conservation.
  • The Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) is an alliance that aims to provide a coordinated response to address habitat loss and population declines.

Rubavu, Rwanda, 31 May 2018 – Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Rwanda and the Republic of Uganda, have today released a new census result which documents 604 mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei); the largest number of mountain gorillas ever recorded in the transboundary Virunga Massif and an estimated 1,004 as of June 2016, when combined with the published figure of 400 mountain gorillas from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, as of 2011.

Located on the border of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Virunga Massif is one of the two remaining areas where this critically endangered great ape is still found. The area has witnessed an increase in count from 480 in 2010 to 604 in 2016.

The increase in mountain gorillas inhabiting the region has been attributed to effective conservation policies, strategies, regulated tourism, daily protection and veterinary interventions, intensive law enforcement, community conservation projects, and transboundary collaboration among government institutions and non-governmental organizations.

“The mountain gorilla numbers are a wonderful indicator of successful conservation. Despite the many challenges, including insecurity in DRC, the numbers have gone up. And this does not only benefit conservation, as it creates tangible economic benefits for local communities as well. A certain percentage of the revenue from gorilla tracking permits goes back to the communities” said Dr. Johannes Refisch, Programme Manager and Coordinator of the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP)

Despite this victory, the populations of mountain gorillas remain perilously small and vulnerable to a potential rapid decline due to factors such as their limited habitat, climate change, dependency on the park’s resources by people, and the risk of disease transmission. The Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration calls upon individuals, all conservation institutions and organizations to join efforts to conserve mountain gorillas and their habitat for future generations. The Great Apes Survival Partnership will continue its support to this important transboundary region and support the mountain gorilla range states in climate change adaptation.



About the Great Apes Survival Partnership:

GRASP is a unique alliance of national governments, research institutions, United Nations agencies, conservation organizations, and private sector supporters, committed to ensuring the long-term survival of gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans and their habitats in Africa and Asia. GRASP aims to leverage the convening power, international access and multi-disciplinary resources of its partners to provide a coordinated response to address habitat loss and population declines.

About UN Environment:

UN Environment is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Keith Weller, Head of News and Media, UN Environment. keith.weller[at]un.org