Eastern lowland – or Grauer’s – gorillas have declined by 77–93 per cent in the past 20 years, according to a new report.

There are now thought to be just 3,800 Grauer’s gorillas in the only region where they are found, the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Artesanal mining operations, controlled by militia groups, are largely blamed for causing the decline through the increased demand for bushmeat.

“Since 1996, the entire range of the Grauer’s gorilla has been consumed in conflict,” the report from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Fauna & Flora International (FFI) states. “This has resulted in a complete breakdown of government control, including wildlife protection activities.”

The demand for tantalum – a mineral used to make capacitors for mobile phones and game consoles – has helped fuel the instability, though some groups say that the situation in the DRC is improving.

Download the full report

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Mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) silverback, Rwanda


James FairWildlife journalist