Fellows in the News

The population of the world’s largest primate — a gorilla subspecies that lives in a region of Central Africa beset by conflict — is collapsing.

Back in 1998, a team of researchers estimated that 17,000 Grauer’s gorillas, also known as eastern lowland gorillas, lived in the forests of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Since then, the population of Grauer’s gorillas has dropped by 77 percent.

Fewer than 3,800 of these gorillas still live in the wild, according to an alarming report published this week by the Wildlife Conservation Society, Flora and Fauna International and the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature.

The gorillas have been impacted by civil war in the DRC, the establishment of mining camps to fund militias and subsistence and bushmeat hunting to feed miners, according to the report.

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“The crash in the gorilla population is a consequence of the human tragedy that has played out in eastern DRC,” report co-author Jefferson Hall, a staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, said in a statement. “Armed factions terrorize innocent people and divide up the spoils of war with absolutely no concern for the victims or the environment.”

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