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Rwanda's mountain gorillas: A conservation success Story

In this Monday, Sept. 2, 2019, file photo, a silverback mountain gorilla named Segasira walks in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda.   -  
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Felipe Dana/Copyright 2019 The AP. All rights reserved.


Rwanda's mountain gorilla population is making a remarkable recovery after decades of facing threats from humans. Once endangered due to poaching, armed conflicts, and diseases, the primates are now flourishing thanks to dedicated conservation efforts.

In the heart of the Virunga Mountain range, rangers guide a group through the rainforest, seeking one of the world's most endangered species: the mountain gorilla. Despite the challenging weather, the group presses on, guided by Patience Dusabimana, an experienced gorilla guide.

Dusabimana shares valuable insights on interacting with these majestic creatures. He warns, "If you hear any silverback doing the 'ah'... you have to pay attention. If he coughs, he doesn't want you to approach; he wants you to move back."

Deep into the forest, the group spots the gorillas, and Dusabimana, who has been working with this family for two decades, expresses his astonishment at their close relation to humans. Despite being genetically similar, these gorillas faced threats from poachers and conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 2008, the IUCN estimated only 680 individual mountain gorillas left in the wild. However, recent efforts have seen a positive turn. "For the census we did in 2018, there were 1,063 mountain gorillas. The population is growing, it's coming up," notes Dusabimana.

Conservation initiatives, including anti-poaching patrols and the removal of snares, have contributed to the thriving gorilla population. The last gorilla poaching incident in Rwanda occurred in 2002, marking a significant milestone in conservation success.

As the gorilla family enjoys a peaceful meal, Dusabimana explains their need for breaks and socializing. He emphasizes the importance of these conservation efforts in ensuring the survival of these creatures, who inhabit areas surrounded by heavily cultivated land, presenting ongoing risks.

While challenges persist, there's hope that these majestic mountain gorillas will continue to thrive in the forests for generations to come, showcasing the success story of Rwanda's commitment to conservation.

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