The Grauer’s gorilla is on the precipice of extinction, a new report says.
Twenty years ago, it was estimated that 17,000 Grauer’s gorillas were left within the animal’s home range inside the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), but a recent report by the Wildlife Conservation Society, Flora and Fauna International and the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature reveals that less than 3,800 of these gorillas remain in the wild, an astonishing 77% decrease.
The gorilla, the world’s largest primate, is being hunted for food by armed groups who have set up illegal mining operations throughout forested regions of the DRC. The mines largely produce the mineral coltan, used to make cell phones and other electronics.
Grauer’s gorilla has been listed as “endangered” since the 1980s on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, but scientists now say the gorilla’s status should be changed to “critically endangered,” a notch away from being officially extinct in the wild.