The Gorilla Crisis

The Largest Primate

Eastern lowland gorillas, also know as Grauer’s gorillas after their scientific name (Gorilla beringei graueri), are the largest gorilla, making them the largest primate in the world. Despite their close relatedness to humans (sharing 98% of our genetic code), most people have never heard of Grauer’s gorillas because they are not well studied and live only in the remote forests of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa.

Gorillas in Crisis

Grauer’s gorillas have suffered a catastrophic 77% population decline over the past 20 years. With only 3,800 individuals remaining, they are now on the brink of extinction and were listed as Critically Endangered in 2016. They are considered one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world and may be extinct within the next 10 years.

Impact of Insecurity & Conflict Minerals

Though gorillas are protected by Congolese and international laws, illegal hunting for bushmeat still occurs and has been the main driver of the gorillas’ decline. Hunting has been facilitated by the proliferation of firearms resulting from widespread insecurity in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, which was the epicenter of war in 1990s that resulted 5.4 million deaths, more than any conflict since World War II. Congo has an estimated $24 trillion in natural wealth, and four minerals in particular – gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum – are highly valued for use in consumer products such as cell phones. These “conflict minerals” have fueled and continue to sustain armed conflict in Congo, particularly in remote forests in the eastern provinces where Grauer’s gorillas live. Gorillas are killed and eaten by miners and others with easy access to guns.

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Poaching Leads to Orphans

Illegal capture of live infant gorillas typically occurs after the infant’s mother is hunted for meat. Captors then try to opportunistically find a buyer. Possessing and selling gorillas is illegal, but most infants never make it that far. Being unweaned, infants often die shortly after capture due to stress, malnutrition, and lack of specialized care. It is estimated that for every gorilla that survives to rescue, 3 or 4 more have perished.

The Human Dimension

Congo is Africa’s third largest country and home to 75 million people. Years of war and insecurity have taken a toll, particularly in the eastern provinces where ethnic tensions are high, sexual violence against women is widespread, and tens of thousands of children have been recruited as soldiers. In 2016, over 922,000 Congolese were forced to flee their homes due to armed conflict, more than anywhere else in the world. Today 3.9 million people are displaced. This upheaval and the shattered economy mean millions of people are denied the chance to earn a living or receive good health care or education.

Learn more about the displacement crisis

The Human Dimension

Congo is Africa’s third largest country and home to 75 million people. Years of war and insecurity have taken a toll, particularly in the eastern provinces where ethnic tensions are high, sexual violence against women is widespread, and tens of thousands of children have been recruited as soldiers. In 2016, over 922,000 Congolese were forced to flee their homes due to armed conflict, more than anywhere else in the world. Today 3.9 million people are displaced. This upheaval and the shattered economy mean millions of people are denied the chance to earn a living or receive good health care or education.

Learn more about the displacement crisis

GRACE is overcoming these challenges to save Grauer’s gorillas and help Congolese communities.

Support GRACE and help save Grauer's gorillas.