ATLANTA, Sept. 24, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Today we mark World Gorilla Day, recognizing the majesty of gorillas and the threats they face on our warming planet.
For 53 years, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has worked to study and protect mountain gorillas and, more recently, the Grauer’s gorillas of the Congo Basin. Our work is paying off. There were only 250 gorillas in the Virungas 30 years ago. Now there are about 600, and mountain gorillas have been reclassified from “Critically Endangered” to “Endangered,” moving them one small step further from extinction.
At this year’s Kwita Izina, an annual naming celebration organized by the Rwanda Development Board taking place today, 24 baby gorillas will be named. Ten of the babies are from groups monitored by the Fossey Fund, and several of our frontline conservationists and trackers have been given the rare honor of naming them.
Despite the good news, says Dr. Tara Stoinski, CEO and chief scientific officer of the Fossey Fund, gorillas are “still in extreme danger, and we cannot let up in our conservation efforts. For example, this year we faced the added challenge of safely monitoring wild gorillas while not exposing them to COVID-19.”
Gorillas live in the Congo basin, earth’s second-largest tropical rainforest, which acts as the “lungs of the planet” and a natural defense against climate change. Gorillas keep the forest healthy by dispersing seeds and shaping plant communities within the forest. “When gorillas are healthy, the forests in which they live are healthy as well, as are the other plants and animals who thrive in the gorillas’ habitat,” Dr. Stoinski says. “Protecting gorillas protects us all.”
Construction is under way on our first permanent home – the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund – which will allow us to expand our outreach and increase our on-the-ground research and protection work. Today the Fossey Fund has more than 200 staff studying and protecting gorillas in Rwanda and the DRC. We also work with nearby human communities, offering food security programs, livelihood and education initiatives.
About the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund
The Atlanta-based Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is the world’s longest-running and largest organization dedicated entirely to gorilla conservation. For more, visit: gorillafund.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @savinggorillas.
SOURCE Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund