02 Sep Gorilla baby boomers in Uganda: five are born in six weeks
At least five mountain gorillas have been born in the last six weeks in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park (southwestern Uganda), Ugandan authorities report Tuesday, a discovery that the Conservation experts greeted with glee.
“This is very encouraging news in the middle of a difficult time, since, with the fall in tourism due to COVID-19, many Ugandans have lost their livelihoods and poaching has increased,” Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka told EFE , veterinarian and founder of the organization Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH).
For the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), these births are part of a gorilla baby boom that rangers from the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park have been recording since late April.
Mountain gorillas are an endemic species to the mountain range that marks the borders of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The populations of these primates increased during the last decades thanks to the efforts of the environmental authorities of the three countries, some non-governmental organizations and the rangers.
According to the latest census, published at the end of 2019, there are currently more than 1,060 specimens of mountain gorillas.
“At present, mountain gorillas are the only great apes whose populations are increasing,” Jordi Galbany, a primatologist and associate professor at the University of Barcelona (Spain), who works with these primates on the border between Rwanda and Uganda.
“However, we cannot fall asleep, we must remain vigilant because the mountain gorilla populations are still small and very localized,” Galbany advised.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), mountain gorillas remain in danger of extinction due to respiratory diseases, poaching – sometimes these apes fall into the traps that hunters set to capture other animals – and weather changes.
But after decades of intense deforestation across East Africa – according to Ugandan authorities, this nation has lost 67 percent of its forests since the 1990s – its main threat is the reduction of its habitat.
“With only a handful of suitable forests left for this species, the number of mountain gorillas will not be able to grow much higher.” No one knows when gorilla populations will reach that limit. But we believe that, in the case of Uganda, that will happen shortly, “Galbany said.
“Even so,” added the expert, “I think we must celebrate the last births as another victory to preserve the future of the species. It is very positive news. Thanks to these offspring, the genetic variety of future populations will be much more varied and promising. ” EFE