Getting Climate-smart with the Mountain Gorilla in the Greater Virunga Landscape: A Species and Climate Change Brief for the Vanishing Treasures Programme

United Nations Environment Programme (2020)

Mountains are an important refuge for biodiversity, providing shelter to many endangered animal and plant species through high altitude and relatively inaccessible landscapes. In Africa, the biodiverse Albertine Rift is a region of global significance for its high endemism. It is home to many endangered species, including the emblematic mountain gorillas, found in the transboundary Virunga Volcanoes, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Sarambwe Reserve. Made famous by primatologist Dian Fossey, mountain gorillas dwindled to an estimate of 250 individuals in the Virunga Massif in 1981, but the population has been recovering over the years, thanks to intensive efforts in conservation, research and surveillance, and the global population now stands at just over 1,000 individuals. Despite this positive trend, mountain gorillas remain endangered. In addition to the emerging threat of climate change, the region has one of the highest human population densities in rural Africa, and pressure on natural resources is very high.

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