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Wildlife Conservation Society discovers 'Planet of the Apes'
Date:8/5/2008

rn area of the country for nearly 20 years, helping establish the Nouabal-Ndoki National Park and manage the Lac Tele Community Reserve while working with logging companies outside of protected areas to reduce illegal hunting.

"These figures show that northern Republic of Congo contains the mother lode of gorillas," said Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society. "It also shows that conservation in the Republic of Congo is working. This discovery should be a rallying cry for the world that we can protect other vulnerable and endangered species, whether they be gorillas in Africa, tigers in India, or lemurs in Madagascar."

In all, the researchers estimated a total of 125,000 gorillas in just this northern Congo area. Seventy three thousand came from the Ntokou-Pikounda region and another 52,000 from the Ndoki-Likouala landscapeincluding a previously unknown population of nearly 6,000 gorillas living in an isolated Raphia swamp. WCS cautioned that many of the gorillas live outside of existing protected areas, though the Government of Congo has committed to creating a new national park in the Ntokou-Pikounda region.

"We knew from our own observations that there were a lot of gorillas out there, but we had no idea there were so many," said Dr. Emma Stokes, who led the survey efforts in Ndoki-Likouala. "We hope that the results of this survey will allow us to work with the Congolese government to establish and protect the new Ntokou-Pikounda protected area."

Mr. Claude Etienne Massimba of the Government of Republic of Congo's Department of Wildlife and Protected Areas said, "We hope that these results will speed up the classification of the Ntokou-Pikounda zone into a protected area."

Across Central Africa, gorillas face the looming threats of hunting for bushmeat and the spread of the Ebola virus, which is lethal to gorillas as well as humans. WCS is working with partners to
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Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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