Monday, January 12, 2009

2009 - Year of the Gorilla

Last year was the Year of the Frog and we raised a lot of awareness about the amphibian crisis that is currently happening around the globe. This year is the Year of the Gorilla and boy have we got a lot of work to do.

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, also known as the Bonn Convention is the group that declared 2009 the Year of the Gorilla. There are several partners in this campaign including Great Apes Survival Partnership, in cooperation with UNEP and UNESCO, and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).

So why is the gorilla so important? Three of the four gorilla species are listed as 'Critically Endangered' in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Gorillas are also listed on Appendix I of the IUCN.

The three species of gorilla that are critically endangered are mountain, cross river, and western lowland. Eastern lowland gorillas though not critically endangered and still a threatened species.

The main threats to gorillas are hunting for food and traditional medicine, habitat destruction through logging, mining and production of charcoal, the effects of armed conflicts and diseases like Ebola.

The campaign will work for the implementation of the CMS Gorilla Agreement, which is an agreement for the conservation of gorillas and their habitats. Additionally, funding and training of rangers, support for scientific research, and awareness training will be part of the campaign.

So what can you do? First, learn about gorillas. Gorilla DNA is about 97.7% the same as humans! I wonder how close it is to dogs. Most people think of that humans came from gorillas, but that is not correct. Gorillas and humans share a common ancestor, with gorillas breaking off and starting to evolve independently about 7.5 million years ago.

The second thing is to learn about gorilla habitats. Find our where gorillas live and what types of habitats they live in. Learn about the threats to their habitats like the ones listed above. Why are gorillas hunted and who eats them? Why is there so much logging in their habitats? Why are people producing charcoal and how does this effect gorillas?

The third thing to do is to see gorillas up close and personal. I am not suggesting that you visit them in wild, but visit them at the zoo. Mom's zoo has western lowland gorillas, which is the species that all U.S. zoos exhibit, and they have had 54 gorilla births at her zoo since the 1970's. Wow! That's a lot of babies.

Since I cannot go to the zoo, I rely on Mom to teach me about gorillas, their habitats, and their fight for survival. I look at their pictures and think that they really do look human. I understand their social structure and know what they eat. I really like gorillas and I think you will too once you get to know them.

Let's make the Year of the Gorilla as successful as the Year of the Frog. Join me in raising awareness and educating people about the plight of gorillas. For additional information, please vist

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