National park authorities in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) today began a new population census to determine how many mountain gorillas remain in the Virunga Massif. The census will be carried out collaboratively by scientists and national park authorities from all three States, under the umbrella of the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC).

Mountain gorillas are classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as “Critically Endangered” with the total global population estimated at less than 900 individuals split into two isolated populations- one in the Virunga Massif (which straddles the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and DRC) and the other in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park contiguous with DRC’s Sarambwe Nature Reserve.

The new scientific count, referred to as a census, will provide a good estimate of the number of mountain gorillas living in the Virunga Massif today and show how the population has changed since the previous census in 2010 estimated that there were 480 gorillas (habituated and unhabituated) in the transboundary protected area. This will also give scientists and protected area managers a much clearer idea of the status of the total global population.

The census will also provide information on demographics (age and sex ratio) within the Virunga Massif gorilla population, and the location of groups in relation to each other within the transboundary protected area.

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