The following statement was released by Simon Nampindo, WCS Uganda Country Director:

“A newly published survey of mountain gorillas brings positive news for the end of 2019: an increase in the number of these rare great apes in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the adjacent Democratic Republic of Congo’s Sarambwe Nature Reserve. When combined with the latest gorilla count from the Virunga Massif, the new estimate of 459 from the Bwindi-Sarambwe landscape brings the worldwide total to 1,063 wild mountain gorillas.

“The latest report on the status of mountain gorillas is great news and a much needed success story from the conservation front. As one of humankind’s closest relatives, the mountain gorilla has been at the forefront of conservation efforts of groups such as WCS for more than half a century, beginning with George Schaller’s groundbreaking research on the ecology of the species in the late 1950s. When Schaller started his study, the estimated population of mountain gorillas was less than half of what it is today.

“The efforts of Schaller, followed by the work of Dian Fossey, and later WCS’s Amy Vedder and Bill Weber spearheaded an inspiring tale of recovery for one of the world’s most charismatic animals. The mountain gorilla has become emblematic of the conservation movement, an outcome achieved in part to an initiative combining conservation with ecotourism and education programs. With ongoing protection from heroic anti-poaching and enforcement rangers working in the three countries where these peaceful giants still exist, the mountain gorilla has become a beacon of hope in the fight to save imperiled species from the brink of extinction.

“As we savor this hard-fought success, we must remain vigilant. Mountain gorillas are still under threat from poaching, habitat loss and degradation, diseases, and potentially climate change. But we can greet the New Year with the confirmation that on-the-ground monitoring and enforcement, coupled with international support from NGOS and governments, has made a difference for mountain gorillas.”


The 2018 Bwindi-Sarambwe mountain gorilla population surveys were conducted by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the I’Institute Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature  (ICCN) of Democratic Republic of Congo under the transboundary framework of the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC). The census was supported by many partners namely Wildlife Conservation Society, WWF, FFI, Rwanda Development Board, IGCP, Mammalian Ecology and Conservation Unit of the UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory, Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology, The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation, Gorilla Doctors, Conservation Through Public Health, and Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Trust.