A myriad of animal species around the world are struggling to stay alive, and now you can add Eastern Gorillas (Gorilla beringei), the world’s largest living primate species, to that list.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has reportedly deemed the Eastern Gorilla as “Critically Endangered.” For those who are unaware, this is the highest level of endangerment that poses the highest risk for wild population extinction.
“To see the Eastern gorilla – one of our closest cousins – slide towards extinction is truly distressing,” says Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General. “We live in a time of tremendous change and each IUCN Red List update makes us realize just how quickly the global extinction crisis is escalating.”
“Conservation action does work and we have increasing evidence of it,” he continued. “It is our responsibility to enhance our efforts to turn the tide and protect the future of our planet.”
There are now thought to be just 5,000 Eastern Gorillas remaining on Earth. Four of the six known great ape species on Earth are now considered critically endangered by the result of this announcement.
The cause for the escalation in endangerment can be, once again, blamed on humans for illegal hunting that is getting pretty close to wiping out yet another beautiful species on our planet. These actions have led to the direct decline of their numbers by up to 70% in the last two decades.
The Eastern Gorilla has two subspecies: Grauer’s Gorilla (G. b. Graueri) and the Mountain Gorilla (G. b. beringei). Both are included in the new critically-endangered status, but the population statistics of each can be divided even further.
Of those 5,000 remaining Eastern Gorillas, Grauer’s Gorilla has seen its numbers drop from nearly 17,000 to 3,800 in a survey conducted in 2015. Fewer than 1,000 Mountain Gorilla’s currently walk the Earth, but the most recent survey that concluded 890 remaining species walked the Earth is actually an improvement from a previous survey.
The only other two species of great apes not to be considered “critically endangered” are bonobos and chimpanzees, but if we keep up our trends, these species may soon fall into similar fates. Conservation efforts must be stepped up to save these species from total annihilation.