Great Apes

Great ape conservation has long been a signature for our team. In particular, we offer depth of expertise in gorilla conservation in Central Africa.

With our collaborative engagement and investment over more than two decades, the mountain gorilla population has nearly doubled. We are now leveraging our experience to benefit the critically endangered Grauer’s gorilla in the forested landscapes of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Grauer’s gorillas were reclassified as critically endangered in 2016, with a population estimated at 3,800 individuals and declining at 5% per year. This rapid decline is being driven by poaching and habitat loss.

As we look to the future of our work with great apes, we see much to signal success and inspire optimism.

Partnering for Grauer’s Gorilla Conservation

We are partnering with internationally-recognized primatologist and founder of the Congolese NGO Primate Expertise, Dr. Augustin Basabose. We worked with Dr. Basabose for many years on mountain gorilla conservation and now direct this shared history to improve protection of Grauer’s gorillas in the upland sector of Kahuzi-Biega National Park.

Together with Primate Expertise, we are addressing two major threats to great apes in and around Kahuzi-Biega—poaching and habitat loss. We are implementing ecological monitoring and research, snare removal and anti-poaching patrols, habitat restoration, and livelihood diversification to protect gorillas and improve livelihoods of people living in buffer areas outside the park.

View images of Grauer’s gorillas and our conservation partners by photojournalist Allison Shelley:

Imbereheza Gahunga, a Women-Led Cooperative

In Rwanda, together with our Conservation Advisor Eugène Rutagarama we are partnering with Imbereheza Gahunga, a women-led cooperative to address a basic human need while eliminating a key threat to mountain gorillas. We are supporting the construction of water tanks to meet daily water needs and eliminate the need to enter gorilla habitat to gather water. The pilot phase was a success, building 50 water tanks that meet the daily water needs of 274 households and roughly 1,200 people. We plan to scale this program to build 500 tanks in communities bordering Volcanoes National Park for the benefit of both wildlife and people.

View images of the pilot Imbereheza Gahunga water tank program by Eugene Rutagarama, and mountain gorilla photos by Eric Sambol: