Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Gorilla

Random.  Mysterious.  Unexplored.  I take a look into the heart of interesting and explore the unexplored realm of fascinating.  It's a place I go when reality becomes too much.  It's a place where my mind likes to ponder the ancient secrets of this world....a place that is slowly becoming exposed to the everyday increase of technology.  These pics and info were found on the internet and are not my own. But someday, with my naked eye and camera, I will see these places before I die. Life is short and travel is plenty. Las Aventuras is about two wonderful activities.....gardening and travel. 

When I travel, I enjoy going off the trodden tourist path and like to follow different topics that make me curious. These stories make me want to see with my own eyes the things that others report. Other topics I've written about over this past year were.....grapes on a tree trunk. Hidden Amazon tribes that have not made contact with the people of today.  Or the last member of a tribe surrounded by Western culture. A place so dangerous that the PanAmerican highway cannot pass....the DariĆ©n Gap.  We are currently working with several agencies to visit the Darien this June from the 14th until July 6th. To visit these places, you need to save money because transportation can be costly as well as the medications needed to hike in the you need a reliable guide who can provide valuable cultural and scientific information.

Today I look into another secret of the world.  One that was exposed by satellite technology back in 2008.  It was exciting news, but at the same time, it worried me.  Today's fascinating review is a look into the endangered lowland gorillas.  They were thought to be endangered, but an area in central Africa revealed that there were more than 125,000 gorillas present. While this was great news, I now worried that people knew about this hidden secret forest.  So I did a follow up last night on this incredibly cool find from 2008 on this critically endangered animal.  The story reads like this......

"Wildlife Conservation Society researchers have found approximately 125,000 endangered western lowland gorilla in a relatively small part of the Northern Republic of Congo. That's more than double the number of western lowland gorillas thought to exist in the world. From CNN:  Acting on a tip from hunters who indicated the presence of gorillas, (researcher Hugo) Rainey said that the researchers trekked on foot through mud for three days to the outskirts of Lac Tele, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the nearest road. "When we went there, we found an astonishing amount of gorillas," said Rainey, speaking from the International Primatological Society Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland. "This is the highest-known density of gorillas that's ever been found," Rainey said.

Western lowland gorillas are listed as critically endangered, the highest threat category for a species. Their populations are declining rapidly because of hunting and diseases like Ebola hemorrhagic fever. Source:
Another report gives a little bit more on the history of the lowland gorillas. An estimated 125,000 Western lowland gorillas are living in a swamp in equatorial Africa, researchers reported Tuesday, double the number of the endangered primates thought to survive worldwide. "It's pretty astonishing," Hugo Rainey, one of the researchers who conducted the survey for the U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society, told CNN Tuesday. The last census on the species, carried out during the 1980s, estimated that there were only 100,000 of the gorillas left worldwide. Since then, the researchers estimated, the numbers had been cut in half.  WCS survey teams conducted the research in 2006 and 2007, traveling to the remote Lac Tele Community Reserve in northern Republic of Congo, a vast area of swamp forest.

Though researchers did spot some gorillas, they based their estimate on the number of gorilla nests found at the site, Rainey said. Each gorilla makes a nest to sleep in at night. Their populations are declining rapidly because of hunting and diseases like Ebola hemorrhagic fever, whose symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and internal and external bleeding. While the discovery in northern Congo indicates that the gorilla population remains stable in some areas, it is likely that gorillas will remain critically endangered because the threats facing the species are so great, Rainey said. "We know very little about Ebola and how it spreads," he said. "We don't even know the animal that spreads it around." The goal now, Rainey said, is to work with the Congolese government and donors to protect the areas in which the gorillas are known to be living.  Source:

Here is some more encouraging news about the Mountain Gorillas in Uganda....not to be confused with the Lowland Gorillas of the Congo or Rwanda. "A female mountain gorilla sits in vegetation in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest on the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, in September 2009. The population of mountain gorillas in their main central African habitat has increased by a quarter in seven years, regional authorities said.  Most of the world's mountain gorillas are found in the Virunga massif, which includes three contiguous national parks in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda.

The population of the iconic but endangered animal in that area increased from 380 individuals in 2003 to 480, according to a census carried out earlier this year and funded by a number of local and foreign wildlife organisations. "The increase in mountain gorilla numbers is a testament that we in the Virunga massif are all reaping from the conservation efforts sowed on a daily basis," Rica Rwigamba, from the Rwanda Development Board said in a statement. The only place outside of the Virunga massif where mountain gorillas are found is Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Along with 302 individuals believed to dwell in Bwindi and four orphans living in a sanctuary in DR Congo, the census put the known world population of mountain gorillas at 786. Mountain gorillas, who have fallen prey to conflict and poaching over the years, were famously brought to the world's attention by the late Dian Fossey and are one the region's main tourist attractions.  Source:

While the news is encouraging, it makes me think about how small our world is becoming.  These gorillas were safe for so long from the human population's eye and only now, are people entering into difficult regions of primary forest. The continent of Africa is a difficult one to understand mixed in political and indigenous struggles of genocide and famine.  Not all countries are equal, but all struggle from extreme poverty.  Having lived a time in West Africa was quite the eye opener.  The war of the Congo and its' wild forests are captured in a fascinating read called, "The Poisonwood Bible." Others have gone on to say that Civil War is good for wildlife as people stay out of jungle areas overrun by gorillas of another kind. I hope preservation can help these animals as modern communities are surrounding both indiginous tribe lands and one of a kind wildlife. A world full of diversity is a rich one. 
Virunga National Park

The more interesting note is that our world population continues to grow.  If you are a Star Trek fan of the old series, you may have seen an episode about a world overcrowded with people. It was a tad cheesy and I hadn't thought much of it growing up as I thought it was improbable.  As I got older and rewatched the episode, I began to think that this overcrowding is happening all over the world.....and it continues!! The picture below is an example of the tragedy sprawling across the planet at an alarming rate.  Look below from your airplane window to see the ugly geometric squares and rectangles that stain our lands.  I have only seen untouched forest in the Amazon from the plane and it made me smile.  There are still places like this in the world and they need to be left untouched for future generations of animals, plants, and people alike(even though people are animals:) 
Look my friends as things are slowly encroached upon by man......these are the things to come.

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