NEW YORK (June 7, 2011)—The world’s largest and least known type of gorilla will receive a helping hand from Newman’s Own Foundation, which has awarded the Wildlife Conservation Society a $150,000 grant to help save the Grauer’s gorilla in the war-torn landscape of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
The grant will help equip and support park rangers (or eco-guards) in their struggle to protect the gorillas of Kahuzi-Biega National Park, a World Heritage site that is now threatened by armed rebel groups, deforestation, and mining for gold and coltan. The contribution will provide park rangers working for the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN)—the parks department for the Democratic Republic of Congo—with field equipment that will help them monitor and limit poaching within the park.
In recent years, the efforts of eco-guards to protect the Grauer’s gorillas of Kahuzi-Biega have yielded encouraging results. According to a census conducted in late 2010 by both ICCN park rangers and WCS conservationists, gorillas in the highland sector of the park have actually increased in number, rising from 168 to 181 individuals in the same sector since 2004.
“We’re proud of the risk and sacrifice made by our colleagues working to save Grauer’s gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega,” said Dr. James Deutsch, Executive Director of WCS’s Africa Program. “We’re also thankful to Newman’s Own Foundation for their support in this struggle.”
Robert Forrester, President of Newman’s Own Foundation, said: “The Wildlife Conservation Society is committed to saving endangered wildlife around the globe. We are pleased to support their conservation efforts and ongoing work to protect the Grauer’s gorilla, whose population has been devastatingly affected in recent years.”
The support from Newman’s Own Foundation will help the park’s eco-guards re-establish control of the lowland sector of Kahuzi-Biega, which has been largely inaccessible to researchers in recent years due to the frequent presence of militia. The grant will be disbursed over a three-year period.
The Grauer’s gorilla (also known as the eastern lowland gorilla) is a close relative of the more famous mountain gorilla and lives exclusively in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The Grauer’s gorilla is also the largest of the four subspecies of gorilla, with silverback males sometimes weighing more than 500 pounds.
The great ape is currently listed as “Endangered” on IUCN’s (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List and could number fewer than 4,000 individual gorillas (down from 17,000 estimated in 1995).
The Wildlife Conservation Society:
The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.