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Project Update: Saving Endangered Gorillas in the Congo

Endangered Species International (ESI) has many ongoing conservation projects. We are pledging our lives to do our part in saving the globe from the extinction of animal, plant and other species on a daily basis. As an example of one of our major projects, let us present the following update of our Congo project:

The tropical forests of the Congo Basin constitute a uniquely wonderful biodiverse refuge that still holds large numbers of species: of special note are a number of endangered vertebrates that are endemic to the area. On the critically-endangered list is the western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) that inhabits Gabon and the Republic of Congo wherein about 80 % of the species reside. Despite the low human population density in the Congo, and therefore low level impact of anthropogenic influences, the country experienced a serious decline in its gorilla population mostly as a result of commercial hunting that was facilitated by the development of logging roads and related infrastructure that provided increased access to jungle rainforests.

More specifically, our ESI project site is located in a region of the Congo that harbors incredible biodiversity in a preserve for large endangered forest mammals. Our field study found a total of 58 gorillas within 123 square kilometers (km2) of remote forest in the Republic of Congo (please refer to Table 1). The estimated density of weaned gorillas was 0.81 individuals per square kilometer in dense forest and zero individuals in degraded forests. Due to some protected areas where the habitat is better preserved, our estimated number of gorillas in the area was lower than previously estimated. Our project area represents a hot spot for biodiversity, and especially for the survival of the gorillas.

In the Congo, human activities threatening forest animals and their habitats are steadily increasing, placing expanding pressure on gorillas to find suitable locations to settle and protect their bands. In our 123 km2 study site, and within the scope of our active conservation forest activities, we actively protect endangered western lowland gorillas, forest elephants, mandrills, African dwarf crocodiles, and many other threatened plants and animals. Even though our project site has been subjected to intense illegal wild-meat hunting and illegal deforestation within the last 20 years, our persistent presence and work in the region has sharply reduced illegal hunting of endangered species. By working closely with forest hunters, ESI and others have created a cooperative “Hunters for Gorilla Conservation” program. With the support of ESI, the local cooperative has developed small scale eco-tourism activities, conducted awareness seminars and materials on gorilla conservation, monitored hunting activities, protected gorillas from hunting and any other human disturbances, and implemented alternative sustainable livelihood opportunities for the local populace.

Table 1. Estimated Gorilla Population in the District of Kakamoueka, Republic of Congo (ESI study results, 2013)

A Strategy that Works

We have trained twenty (20) local hunters who are now field conservationists who conduct gorilla surveys, and monitor and report illegal activities such as deforestation and hunting of protected animals. For the first time since 2013, no gorillas and other endangered species have been killed in our project area. Despite this promising success in protecting animals and their rainforest habitat, your help is nonetheless needed to continue saving gorillas and many other animals.

With your financial and other support, Endangered Species International will continue to:

  • Monitor wild gorilla populations;

  • Directly patrol rainforests to stop all efforts to hunt endangered animals, with specific focus on gorillas, chimpanzees and forest elephants;

  • As increasing awareness of local wildlife among students should bode well for future generations, continue vital conservation awareness programs in local communities and schools;

  • Strengthen our direct conservation activities and field logistics to actively protect gorillas and their rainforest;

  • Support alternative livelihood opportunities for local residents that should directly contribute to the protection of gorillas and the surrounding rainforest;

  • Protect and restore wild habitats for endangered species in the Congo.

As the reader can see, we are very much committed to this and other vital global projects. We also know that appealing for your financial support is just one more cause you may want to support, and so the dilemma for you may be about which one to support.

At ESI we pledge that the funds we receive are used as effectively as possible to ensure that most of your money hits the ground where the greatest impact is felt in favor of the projects we are engaged in. Yes, perhaps you’ve heard this from other environmental NGO operations before, but let us suggest that you contact us directly and ask pointed questions of us to get a better handle on our integrity, competence, and commitment to endangered species.

Please feel free to donate@endangeredspeciesinternational.org, and we will respond as quickly as possible. After all, if we as individuals don’t step up and place our resources in the right place, in a few decades we may be wandering around in a dazed condition wondering what happened to the abundance of the planet we have been given.


Overview of ESI project site in Congo. © Endangered Species International

Gorilla nest found by ESI scientists. © Endangered Species International

A hair of gorilla found at a nest within our project site in Congo. © Endangered Species International

ESI conservation awareness and education Congo. © Endangered Species International

A wild fruit eaten by gorillas. © Endangered Species International

A wild forest fruit praised by gorillas. © Endangered Species International

A forest elephant. © Endangered Species International

ESI conservation awareness conducted in Congo. © Endangered Species International

Illegal hunting has been greatly reduced in our project area. © Endangered Species International

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