The population of the western gorilla has declined rapidly over the past decade. Published estimates usually range between 90,000 and 110,000 individuals, with the population spread across the lowland tropical forests of Western Equatorial Africa, but this figure is outdated and now considered to be grossly exaggerated. The true figure is likely to be substantially lower with declines of up to 50% estimated to have occurred in the remaining western gorilla strongholds over the past decade. The commercial bushmeat trade, combined with epidemics of the Ebola haemorrhagic fever is the driving force behind this alarming decline in numbers.
Current conservation efforts do not adequately address the cause of the major decline in western gorilla populations. Immediate improvements in law enforcement could dramatically reduce the impact of the commercial trade in bushmeat on western gorillas. The hunting of western gorillas is already illegal in all range states, but in many places these laws are not being enforced. Furthermore, extensive resources are required to identify appropriate conservation actions in the face of the spread of Ebola.
Western-Gorilla.org is a network of researchers and conservationists committed to ensuring the survival of western gorillas. Its members are currently working in all the major western gorilla research and conservation sites across Central Africa, and together possess unparalleled insight into the threats faced by western gorillas in the wild. Western-gorilla.org is currently maintained on a voluntary basis, and welcomes contributions from all researchers and conservationists working across the western gorilla geographic range.