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Ugandan Wildlife Authorities Report A Gorilla 'Baby Boom'

For humans, the birth of a baby is generally something to celebrate even though there are about 7.8 billion of us on the planet. So for endangered species, each newborn must be worth celebrating that much more as it moves that species just a bit further from the brink of extinction.

And while 2020 hasn't felt like the sort of year with much to celebrate for humans, for gorillas in Uganda, it's been worthy of popping the cork on the finest of champagnes as wildlife authorities there have announced a baby boom.

Gorillas are beautiful, iconic, instantly recognizable creatures that are woefully small in number.

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According to the World Wildlife Fund, as of December 2019, the global population of mountain gorillas in the wild stood at just 1,063.

And, as difficult as this might be to believe, things have been improving in that regard. Some experts had believed that mountain gorillas would be fully extinct by the end of the twentieth century. Instead, their numbers have rebounded thanks to some serious conservation efforts, growing from 786 in 2010 to 880 in 2012 to now 1,063.

Even better, the trend of growth for gorillas appears to be continuing.

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While 2020 has been a down year for humans in general, it has been a bountiful year for gorillas and the past six weeks have been particularly busy, with five new births in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park over that time period. Those latest births bring the year's total to seven. Compared to just three births in all of 2019, it's little wonder wildlife authorities are excited.

"This is highly unusual, it’s an incredible blessing," UWA spokesperson Bashir Hangi told Reuters.

The authorities aren't entirely sure why the gorillas have had such a sudden spike in births.

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But they do know that the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns haven't had an effect because gorillas have a nine-month gestation period. If anything, they believe that increased conservation measures, including anti-poaching patrols and 24/7 veterinary care and monitoring are paying dividends.

"The birth of new mountain gorillas is testimony to Uganda's successful conservation efforts," said Sam Mwandha, UWA's executive director, in a statement. "With enhanced integrity of protected areas, there has been a general increase in wildlife populations in Uganda."

The building population seems to back that idea that conservation is working.

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And international authorities agree. In 2018, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) moved mountain gorillas from their critically endangered red list and reclassified them as endangered.

"Slowly but surely a solid future for mountain gorillas is emerging, proving that long-term, collaborative conservation efforts can pull species back from the brink of extinction," said Anna Behm Masozera, director of the International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP), according to the WWF.

h/t: Reuters

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