Gorilla in a tree. Credit J.Galbany, DFGFI
Mountain gorillas are currently the only known ape subspecies that is increasing; however, their population is still incredibly fragile, with only 480 individuals inhabiting the Virunga massif. The entire subspecies numbers under 900 individuals and is listed by the IUCN as critically endangered. Extreme poverty in the area translates to the human population continuing to use resources from within the national park for their livelihoods. Local populations set snares in the park for ungulates, keep bees and remove water and wood from the forest. These illegal activities pose both direct and indirect threats to the gorillas as well as their habitat and the other biodiversity of the park. A recent analysis of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International’s long-term data revealed that daily protection efforts are primarily responsible for the increases in the mountain gorilla population size (Robbins et al., 2011). Through the Karisoke Research Center (KRC), the Fossey Fund currently provides daily protection to approximately half of the remaining Virunga mountain gorilla population in Rwanda and conducts regular anti-poaching patrols in the Volcanoes National Park. The Fossey Fund also supports the Rwandan, Congelese and Ugandan national park authorities by conducting independent and joint patrols in the larger Virunga landscape. For this proposal, the DFGFI is requesting €30,000 to fund a portion of field staff salaries and to purchase necessary materials, supplies and uniforms for its field team members. The core activities at KRC related to gorilla protection, monitoring and research specifically include: 1. Conducting anti-poaching patrols that protect both the gorillas and other wildlife by removing snares and recording illegal activities; 2. Maintaining a daily, physical presence with approximately half of the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, while collecting essential demographic, behavioral, health and ranging data that are used in the conservation of the population.