Celebrating the Year of the Gorilla :: 2009

bonobos, chimpanzees, Democratic Republic of Congo, great ape conservation, Rwanda, saving gorillas, sustainable development, Year of the Gorilla

This year is not only the Year of the Ox, it is also the Year of the Gorilla (YoG). Many organizations* have banded together to focus on saving gorilla populations in the wild and in their habitats by:

  • Raising awareness about gorillas
  • Educating the general public about the threats gorillas face
  • Implementing gorilla conservation projects, and
  • Promoting sustainable development compatible with gorilla survival across the species range and outside protected areas.

What makes gorillas special?
Their close kinship to humans makes them distinctive within the animal kingdom. Gorillas share 98.4 percent of their genes with humans. They have been shown to possess self-awareness, remarkable intelligence, the ability to communicate with signs and symbols, and express emotions in a way similar to humans.

Current outlook
Gorillas remain endangered and face possible extinction. The great apes of Africa – the bonobos, chimpanzees and gorillas – and the orangutans of Southeast Asia are in steep decline, and the rate of loss is rapidly increasing. The conservation of viable wild populations of each species poses a difficult challenge. That challenge extends to the key role that apes play in their forest homes. Diminishing environments and elimination from their habitats affects the global climate.

The bigger picture
The countries that the majority of these gorillas inhabit – the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda – are a crisis within a crisis. The situations are complex and difficult, and the challenges to both humans and primates are immense.

Halfway through 2009, the Year of the Gorilla continues having a great global impact via educational lectures, fundraising events and kid-friendly events at local zoos. The gorillas’ survival looks brighter.

For more information about gorillas and gorilla programs, visit the Year of the Gorilla.

*The UNEP Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), the UNEP/UNESCO Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) have joined hands to declare 2009 the Year of the Gorilla. The YoG is supported by UNEP and UNESCO and is part of the UNESCO Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.

Leave a Reply