Rwanda’s mountain gorillas fighting back against all odds


A juvenile gorilla. REUTERS/Edward Echwalu
A juvenile gorilla. REUTERS/Edward Echwalu

Rwanda’s mountain gorillas have become a rare conservation success story with numbers, though still critical, continuing to climb.

In 1967, American primatologist Dian Fossey arrived by herself at Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. She found a species on the brink – a census conducted shortly after found that just 240 gorillas were left.

In the nearly 50 years since the population of gorillas in the park has more than doubled. At last count there were 880 mountain gorillas left.  Fossey’s work also carries on through the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.

Tara Stoinski, the Fossey Fund’s president and chief executive, told CNN  that Fossey pioneered the study of gorillas.

“She really pioneered the study of gorillas and habituating them, getting them used to human presence.”

Cyizanye, a juvenile gorilla plays with a young Mutagamba. REUTERS/Edward Echwalu
Cyizanye, a juvenile gorilla plays with a young Mutagamba. REUTERS/Edward Echwalu

The gorillas’ comeback has not been easy, mostly due to habitat loss.

“They are literally stuck on top of these volcanoes surrounded by a sea of people,” Stoinski said. ” It’s one of the highest human population densities in Africa, so there’s a lot of pressure on the forest and the area that they live.”

The Fossey Fund works with Rwanda’s park rangers to provide protection, 365 days a year. The group also continues the research that Fossey started.

The group is also taking its model to Congo where eastern lowland gorillas are being wiped out by hunting and poaching.


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