The eastern gorilla has officially been declared critically endangered, joining the list of other great ape species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)‘s red list. There are now only 5000 of these large great apes know as Gorilla berengei in the world.
Its population has seen a 70 percent decline in the last 20 years due to illegal hunting, leaving the species a step from extinction. The gorillas have fallen victim to an increase in poaching incidents especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo where they habit. They are also found in pockets of rainforests in Uganda and Rwanda.
“We are wiping out some of our closest relatives, the eastern gorilla which is the largest living primate is now in this updated listed as critically endangered. And it has suffered a significant population decline due to illegal hunting. This means that four out of every six great ape species are now critically endangered and two that they are still under considerable threat of extinction,” said Director General of the IUCN, speaking at a press conference in Honolulu.
Some of the apes Andersen is refering to include the western gorilla, the Bornean orangutan and Sumatran orangutan, which have also been classed as critically endangered.
According to the IUCN, war, hunting and loss of land to refugees in the past 20 years have led to the “devastating population decline.
The Rwandan Genocide, which took place in 1994 is also cited as one of the reasons why there has been a decline as they were driven out of their habitation during the conflict.