The Eastern Gorilla (Gorilla beringei) is the largest living primate in the world. Spread in three African countries, the Eastern Gorilla is made up of two subspecies; the Eastern Lowland Gorilla and the Mountain Gorilla.
Eastern gorillas include very small mountain populations (the famous Mountain gorillas) in Rwanda, Uganda, and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and a slightly larger population in the lowlands of DRC east of the Congo River. Eastern gorilla populations are highly fragmented and severely threatened by grazing and forest conversion to agriculture, a consequence of the explosive growth of human populations in the region over the last half century. Over the last decade, a flood of refugees and general lawlessness resulting from civil strife in Rwanda and DRC have also created an epidemic of gorilla hunting that has had a severe impact Eastern lowland gorilla populations.
Population and Distribution
The Eastern lowland gorilla population is now estimated to be fewer than 5,000. Grauer’s Gorilla (G. b. graueri), one subspecies of Eastern Gorilla – has lost 77% of its population since 1994, declining from 16,900 individuals to just 3,800 in 2015.
“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. It is our responsibility to enhance our efforts to turn the tide and protect the future of our planet.”