World’s Largest Gorilla Now Declared Critically Endangered

Posted: Sep 5 2016, 12:11pm CDT | by , Updated: Sep 6 2016, 7:53pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


World’s Largest Gorilla Now Declared Critically Endangered
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Eastern Gorilla, the world's largest living primate, is getting close to extinction because of hunting and habitat loss.

The Eastern Gorilla, the world’s largest living primate, is just one step away from extinction. 

The latest report of International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species reveals that Eastern Gorillas are on the verge of extinction with just 5,000 individuals left on Earth. They inhabit the forests of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.

Illegal hunting, civil wars and habitat loss have contributed to a devastating decline in gorilla’s population and reduced them to 70% in the past 20 years. The change in status now puts four out of six existing great ape species – eastern gorilla, Western Gorilla, Bornean Orangutan and Sumatran Orangutan - as Critically Endangered species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, meaning we are about to lose many of our closest evolutionary relatives if something is not to reverse the situation.

"To see the Eastern gorilla - one of our closest cousins - slide towards extinction is truly distressing,” said Inger Andersen, IUCN director general. 

“We live in a time of tremendous change and each IUCN Red List update makes us realize just how quickly the global extinction crisis is escalating. Conservation action does work and we have increasing evidence of it. It is our responsibility to enhance our efforts to turn the tide and protect the future of our planet.”

Eastern gorillas are currently made up of two subspecies; Grauer's gorilla and Mountain gorilla. One subspecies Grauer's gorilla has lost almost 80 percent of its population in past two decades and their numbers have dropped drastically from 16,900 individuals in 1994 to just 3,800 individuals in 2015 while the other  subspecies only has around 880 individuals. 

Overall, the IUCN Red List, which gets upgrade after every four years, is now includes more than 8,000 species of which a staggering 24,000 are critically endangered. The Plains zebra has moved from “least concern” to “near threatened” after its population drop down from about 660,000 to 500,000 animals in the past 14 years. In Hawaii, 38 of 415 endemic plants are also listed as extinct. The good news is that the population of giant panda has increased up to 17%, from 1,596 individuals in 2004 to 1,864 in 2014. After the rebound, giant panda has been downgraded from endangered to vulnerable. But overall, the latest IUCN data paints a bleak picture of the future of many animal species. 

“Illegal hunting and habitat loss are still major threats driving many mammal species towards extinction," said Carlo Rondinini, Coordinator of the mammal assessment at Sapienza University of Rome "We have now reassessed nearly half of all mammals. While there are some successes to celebrate, this new data must act as a beacon to guide the conservation of those species which continue to be under threat."



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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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