Virunga’s Mountain Gorilla status down-listed on IUCN Red List for first time since 1994

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has today [published the results of its review of the mountain gorilla Red List status, down-listing the species from “critically endangered” to “endangered” for the first time since 1994.

Virunga National Park welcomes this announcement by the IUCN, which comes as more good news following a year of successes for the species. In May 2018, the results of the mountain gorilla census conducted across the Virunga Massif indicated the species’ has made steady population growth, a testament to the dedicated conservation work which has been undertaken to protect the species from decline.

Home to approximately one third of the world’s population of mountain gorillas, Virunga National Park has paid a significant price in its efforts to safeguard the species, with over 175 rangers having been killed in the line of duty whilst protecting the Park from threats including armed conflict, habitat destruction and poaching. Yet despite continuing challenges, Virunga has maintained its conservation programme without pause and has been steadfast in employing the highest international standards of protection and care by the ranger team and with critical veterinary support from the Gorilla Doctors.

The Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) Director General, Cosma Wilungula said: “This news represents a real moment of celebration for all those who have dedicated themselves to the conservation of the mountain gorilla species. We are proud of the work of our rangers in contributing to this success, and of local communities for recognising the importance of protecting the mountain gorilla for future generations.”

Emmanuel de Merode, Chief Warden of Virunga National Park, added: “We’re very pleased to see the mountain gorilla’s transition to an improved conservation status, yet we must remember that eastern Congo remains an extremely challenging environment for conservation. Even the smallest victories are hard-fought in Virunga and this announcement is a testament to the hard work and sacrifice of a dedicated team of individuals who risk life and limb to ensure the Park and its wildlife remain intact. We must continue to focus our efforts now more than ever.”

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