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Gorilla tourism exposes gorillas to humans, sometimes close enough for droplet infection by sneezing or coughing, and hence to any diseases that humans may be carrying, some of which the gorillas may never have been exposed to before Homsy, Gorilla tourism is therefore not as well established as it is with eastern gorillas. However the discovery that Western lowland Gorilla could easily be seen at bais has increased the likelihood of successful gorilla tourism and could, if unregulated, lead to increased contacts with humans as happens in Rwanda or Uganda. In Rwanda, strict rules are in place to regulate tourist visiting times one hour per day.

The number of tourists per group must not exceed 8 fewer if the gorilla group is small — there should never be more tourists than gorillas , no tourist showing signs of illness is allowed to visit. Such regulations must be adopted as soon as possible in areas where western lowland gorilla tourism is being, or is planned to be established. Throughout the western lowland gorilla's range, the forests on which it depends for survival are being cut down for timber and to make way for agriculture. Habitat loss is a major threat to gorillas as forests are rapidly being lost to commercial logging interests and subsistence agriculture.

As the global demand for palm-oil continues to rise, both for food and bio-fuels, land to be converted into oil palm plantations is now being sought in Africa by oriental companies. Until recently, there has been relatively little habitat degradation over much of the Congo Basin, with low conversion to agricultural land. As late as the s West and Central African timber was considered to be of low commercial value which limited the pressure posed by selective logging. This situation changed dramatically during the s. Satellite images have revealed that networks of new logging roads have now spread into what had previously been considered the least accessible forests in the country Minnemeyer et al.

Other parts of the range of western lowland gorilla to have undergone extensive logging include Cameroon, Congo, Rio Muni continental Equatorial Guinea and the Congolese Mayombe forests. Logging roads and access routes fragment forest and improve access for hunters. Forest fragmentation poses a potential threat to western lowland gorillas in that it can block transfers between groups and access to seasonal food resources.

The impacts of wars and political conflicts, particularly well documented for the mountain and eastern lowland gorilla, could have affected the western lowland gorilla in a similar way. Civil wars and unrest also increase hunting levels by exacerbating poverty and dependence on natural resources, particularly among displaced peoples and refugees. Angola, the Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and the DRC have all suffered periods of instability in recent decades; Congo-Brazzaville in , for exemple, received 34, refugees from DRC, 2, from Angola and is still hosting 6, refugees from Rwanda, who have been there since the s.

In addition to influxes of refugees, the forests that are home to gorillas have served as hiding places and retreats for rebel forces, leading to disturbance and hunting. This is a common phenomenon in times of war, particularly in forests close to international borders. Accidental entrapment in wire snares used to trap other wild animals is also an ever-present threat to western gorillas. Plumptre et al. This threat needs to be assessed over the whole distribution area of the western lowland gorilla. National laws for control of hunting and capture exist in all countries with gorilla populations, but a lack of funds and inaccessibility make widespread enforcement of this legislation rare.

Biodiversity protection and management are under the responsibility of the Ministry of Urban affairs and Environment, but in practice the Forestry Development Institute IFD remains in overall charge of the forest sector, with the National Directorate of Agriculture and Forest DNAF with which it shares responsibilities in relation to policy formulation and guidance.

But it is reported that wildlife protection laws are scarcely enforced either inside or outside Protected Areas, and poaching, harvesting and settlements inside Protected Areas occur regularly. The Ministry of Forest Economy and the Environment MFEE is responsible for wildlife conservation and regulated use, including the management of protected areas. In Gabon the Ministry of Water and Forests is responsible for the management of natural resources.

Many of the priority populations identified by GrASP for western lowland gorillas are at least partly protected and occur within proposed National Parks, Biosphere Reserves or Community Managed Nature Reserves, but many are also, at least partly, in logging concessions. The taxon is legally protected in all the seven countries of its distribution. The killing or sale of live or dead gorillas or of their body parts, and the disturbance of them in the wild is illegal throughout their range.

Nevertheless, poaching and the illegal capture of live individuals are an important problem in all of these countries. Great efforts must be made by the range states to enforce their laws concerning gorillas, including not only effective antipoaching and seizure of gorilla parts or live individuals on the ground, but follow- up of the legal process through arrest, the passage of each case through the tribunal, and eventually to prosecution of all cases judged guilty.

Silverback and,above, a female. Although current habitats are not yet fragmented in Central Africa compared with areas in West Africa or the Albertine Rift, they will become so in the nest few decades. Particular attention to protecting existing transboundary protected areas, the creation of new ones, and the protection of ungazetted forest corridors between range states will allow the long-term maintainance of genetic flow between gorillas living in neighbouring countries. Western Lowland Gorillas are a keystone species in their forest habitat, and so their protection is essential to the long-term management of the Congo basin, now recognised as a globally important factor in inter-continental weather patterns and for maintaining climate stability.

Now that payment for the eco-system services provided by the Congo Basin to the rest of the planet — including carbon sequestration and storage, rainfall generation and bio-diversity — is being seriously considered, it is essential that the ecological role of gorillas is taken into account. Ammann, K. Video and news reports. WRM Bulletin National Geographic February 6 Bermejo, M. Oryx 33 4 : — American Journal of Primatology 64, Journal of Tropical Ecology — Blake S. Rogers, J.

Fay, M. Swamp gorillas in the northern Congo. Afr J Ecol Blom, A. African Journal of Ecology 39 1 : 98— Sakom Population density and nesting behaviour of lowland gorillas Gorilla gorilla gorilla in the Ngotto forest, Central African Republic. Journal of Zoology Butynski, T. Beck, B. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D. Byrne, R. Complex leaf gathering skills of mountain gorillas Gorilla g. American Journal of Primatology, Caillaud et al. Mammalia 52 3 : — Clifford, Anthony et al.

Gorilla ecology and behavior. Evol Anthropol Subspecific variation in gorilla behavior: the influence of ecological and social factors. Mountain gorillas: three decades of research at Karisoke. Doran, D. Greer, P. Dudley, J. Effects of war and civil strife on wildlife and wildlife habitats. Conservation Biology, 16 2 ; Fay, J. Mammalia 53 2 : — Fay, JM, M.

Agnagna, J. Gorillas Gorilla gorilla gorilla in the Likouala swamp forests of north central Congo: preliminary data on population and ecology. Int J Primatol American Journal of Primatology 27 4 : — Garner, K. Mitochondrial DNA diversity in gorillas. Molecular and Phylogenetic and Evolution, 6 1 : Gatti, S. Gautier-Hion Population and group structure of western lowland gorillas Gorilla gorilla gorilla at Lokoue, Republic of Congo. American Journal of Primatology. Gautier et al. Goldsmith, M. International Journal of Primatology 20 1 : 1— Graczyk, T.

Primate Conservation, Smithsonian Institute Press, Washington and London. Harcourt, A. Is the Gorilla a threatened species? How should we judge? Biological Conservation Journal of Zoology, London, Homsy, J. International Gorilla Conservation Programme. The World Conservation Union. Status survey and conservation action plan. Revised edition. Kalpers, J.

Oryx, 37 3 : Kano, T. African Study Monographs 15 3 : — Levrero F. Living in nonbreeding groups : An alternative strategy for maturing gorillas. American journal of primatology, 68 3 : Minnemeyer, S. World Resources Institute. Morgan, B. Mudakikwa, A. Gorilla Journal, Muruthi, P. What lessons and challenges for the future? Conservation Biology 3. A Globio perspective on the impacts of infrastructural developments on the Great Apes.

United Nations Environment Programme. Primates Nowak, R. The Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, Baltimore. Olejniczak, C. Conference proceedings. Chicago Zoological Society, Brookfield, Illinois. Parnell RJ. Group size and structure in western lowland gorillas Gorilla gorilla gorilla at Mbeli Bai, Republic of Congo. Am J Primatol Plumptre, A. Oryx, 31 4 : Cambridge University Press. Poulsen, J. International Journal of Primatology Redmond, I. Redmond, I. Gorilla Journal Remis, M. American Journal of Primatology 43 2 : 87— American Journal of Primatology 43 2 : — Stokes E.

Malonga, H. Strindberg Wallis, J. International Journal of Primatology, 20 6 : Walsh, P. American Journal of Primatology, 7: Nature 1—3. World Health Organization, www. Accessed February 18 Williamson, E. In: Setchell, J. Wilson D. Reeder editors. Mammal Species of the World. There are two subspecies of western gorilla Gorilla gorilla: the western lowland gorilla Gorilla gorilla gorilla and the Cross River gorilla Gorilla gorilla diehli. In , Paul Matschie, a mammalian taxonomist working at the Humboldt University Zoological Museum in Berlin described a new species of gorilla inhabiting the watershed of the Cross River in what was then German Cameroon.

Matschie named the species Gorilla diehli in honour of Mr. Diehl, an employee of the German Northwestern Cameroon Company, who had collected the gorilla skulls on which Matschie based his new species. According to Matschie the 1 short skull, 2 short molar row, 3 palate shape, 4 and skull base shape distinguished Gorilla diehli as a new species separate from Gorilla gorilla.

Matschie also noted in his description that one of the female skulls collected by Diehl from the same area was not G. The potential occurrence of two morphologically distinct gorillas from the same locality supported Matschie's claims that the two were distinct species. Two gorilla populations could not possibly inhabit the same isolated area and remain morphologically distinct.

Subsequent classifications by Rothschild in and Elliot in agreed that the Cross River gorillas were not a new species and demoted the population to the subspecies Gorilla gorilla diehli. Neither author examined the specimens described by Matschie, or tested Matschie's claim that two morphologically distinct gorillas inhabited the Cross River watershed. Harold Coolidge's revision of the genus Gorilla in placed what was then recognized as G.

Coolidge, like his earlier counterparts, failed however, to address Matschie's claims. Although Colin Groves in revised gorilla taxonomy and added a subspecies Gorilla gorilla graueri to the eastern gorilla populations, Matschie's claims remained unchallenged and Coolidge's taxonomy remained by and large the framework of the currently accepted classification.

By now, the Cross River gorillas were known to occur in eastern Nigeria as well as south-western Cameroon, and they had at least been recognized by Groves as a distinctive far-western population. Working on primate distribution and behaviour in West Africa for the past 30 years, John Oates had long ago recognized the Cross River watershed, the Cameroon highlands and Bioko island as an area of primate endemism. The Sanaga river to the south of this area seems to act as a barrier to primate migrations from the extensive forests of western equatorial Africa, which cover most of southern Cameroon, Gabon, Equatoria l Guinea, northern Congo and south-western Central African Republic and are inhabited by G.

The largest living primates. Barrel-chested ape with relatively even hair, a bare black face and chest and small ears. The bare shaped brows are joined and the nostril margins are raised. Gorillas locomote by knuckle-walking. Occasionally, silverbacks adult males of over cm 6 feet and kg lb have been recorded in the wild. Cross River gorillas do not seem to be very easy to identify from others western gorillas except that they differ significantly in their skull measurements and in particular in mean cheek tooth surface and the usual absence, or relatively poor development, of the sagittal crest in many male.

In this regard the extensive and unique montane forest ecosystem of the Obudu Plateau and other areas of Bamenda Highlands Keay, which once existed may be a better representation of the habitat in which the taxon evolved. Their large body size and folivorous habits mean that the animals must spend long hours feeding everyday to maintain their body weight. Of all the great apes, the gorilla shows the most stable grouping patterns with the same adult individuals travelling together for months and usually years at a time.

Because gorillas are mainly foliage eating they can afford to live in relatively permanent groups.

Foliage, unlike fruit generally and especially the ripe fruits that the ape gut require, comes in large patches than can in turn support large groups of animals. In west Africa, where fruit form a far higher proportion of the gorilla's diet than in the east, gorilla groups tend more frequently, to split into temporary subgroups that they do in east Africa, as animals range far apart searching for the relatively scarce ripe fruit. Gorilla groups can include up to animals, but more usually number The Gorilla is a forest dwelling species. The forest has probably been disturbed by people for many generations and should therefore best be considered an old secondary forest.

Much of the forest, however, has not been recently disturbed, and large trees are relatively abundant in the areas furthest from human settlements. Lophira alata, Cylicodiscus gabunensis, Piptadeniastrum africanum, Berlinia bracteosa, Brachystegia nigerica, and Terminalia spp.

In younger forest, species as Pycnanthus angolensis and Musanga cecropoides are common. The latter tree is found in secondary and disturbed forest throughout tropical Africa and bears fruit commonly consumed by African apes and monkeys. At higher elevation, above approximately m the. Above m there are distinctly montane elements in the flora, including Cephaelis mannii and Podocarpus milanjianus, and at the highest elevations up to m there is montane forest with smaller trees and abundant epiphytes. Much of the forest at higher altitude to m , where the taxon possibly evolved or for which it is possibly best suited, has been converted to grassland by a long period of human occupation cultivation, burning, cattle grazing and so is no longer available.

It is not obvious that the Cross River gorillas have strong habitat preferences within their present range They occur at altitudes between ,m but their present distribution seems to correlate more with human pressure and slope than with habitat types. In Nigeria they live primarily in the rugged terrain of the Afi and Mbe mountains and at the headwaters of the Asache and Mache rivers below the Obudu Plateau of Nigeria; in these areas the forest is often broken by sheer rock faces or rocky outcrops.

In Cameroon their nests are found in high concentrations only in a number of hilly areas ,m in the Takamanda, Mone and Mbulu forests. Amo ng these areas the localities where they were first collected by Diehl. This distribution may be the consequence of long term hunting pressure. Cross River gorillas are rare and wary of humans as a result of hunting. Only a handful of direct sightings of Cross River gorillas have been made, almost all the information on their ecology and behaviour derives from observations of sleeping nests, feeding trails, and reports by local hunters.

Nest clusters suggest that group size is typically small fewer than 6 weaned individuals although much larger groups occur. At Afi mountain nesting patterns suggest that a group as large as 20 individuals will sometimes divide into smaller foraging parties. No attempts to habituate gorillas have been made given the animals ares so few and still vulnerable to hunting.

As far as group structure is concerned, gorillas do form harems. Adult females in a social group are mostly unrelated, and the social ties that exist between them are weak. Groups typically contain one adult male a silverback. Upon reaching maturity, both the males and females leave the natal group. The Cross River gorillas are said to have ranged into the relic montane forests of the Obudu plateau m elevation until the recent past Harcourt et al. There are now eleven known discrete localities where Cross River Gorilla exist. Recent genetic studies suggest that gorillas at 10 of these localities extending east from Afi Mountain in Nigeria to Kagwene Mountain in Cameroon constitute one population, divided into three subpopulations which still occasionally exchange individuals Bergl and Vigilant The Cross River gorillas are the most northern and western of all gorilla populations and are separated from the nearest Gorilla gorilla gorilla population to the south by approximately km.

They are distributed in and around a set of escarpments whose peaks rise above the low-lying coastal forests and reach a maximum elevation of m. Interspersed between the Cross River area and the nearest outpost of western equatorial African forest occupied by western lowland gorillas are the grasslands and fragmented forests of the Cameroon highlands, and the relatively densely settled lowlands of western Cameroon, which effectively isolate the Cross River gorillas from the other west African gorilla populations. Evaluation and evolution of populations.

African Conservatin difficult to establish, because of their small population size and their vast range. Population counts and estimates of gorillas are commonly carried out on the basis of nest site counts e. Adults and immature weaned. The nests are counted and any dung adjacent to each nest examined gives a reliable indication of group size as well as age of animal, particularly when the counts are repeated over several nights.

The Cross River gorilla has probably had a restricted range for some time. From the early s to the late s there were scattered reports on the distribution and abundance of Cross River gorillas. The Nigerian civil war and lack of information meant that by the late s, a general view had developed that the Cross River gorillas had been extirpated at least from Nigeria if not from Cameroon.

Estimations were very low, with only around believed to be remaining in the wild. Further surveys in Nigeria and Cameroon in the s suggested that there were probably no more than individuals in four isolated subpopulations. Within Cameroon they are more widespread than previously thought Oates et al. Although the discovery of new localities is encouraging, some of these localities are quite isolated, and therefore pose conservation challenges.

Some patterns of seasonal movements are observed. Hunters who frequent the forests below the Obudu Plateau report that gorillas use higher elevations in the wet season and retreat to valley bottoms in the dry season Oates et al. Most of observations at other location suggest that the gorillas tend to stick to a relatively stable range across the seasons Sunderlands, comm pers. Transnational dispersion should at least have occurred in the past when distribution was more continuous and recent field surveys, in border locations, suggest that Cross river gorillas still regularly cross the border between Nigeria and Cameroon.

A group usually favours a core area within the home range but seems to follow a seasonal pattern depending upon the availability of ripening fruits. Of the two long-term ecological studies on Cross River gorillas at Afi Mountain in Nigeria and at Kagwene Mountain in Cameroon, mean day range at both sites was roughly 1km per day. The remaining populations are now confined to highland areas within a larger area of more-or-less continuous forest.

Les gorilles du rift

This large forest block is becoming fragmented in some areas. Transboundary protected areas and corridors between the isolated populations have been proposed as important conservation measures. Nigeria Critically Endangered : the isolated Nigeria-Cameroon gorillas have recently been recognised as a subspecies, the Cross River gorilla Gorilla gorilla diehli.

In Nigeria there are approximately three localities and a fourth shared with Cameroon. There are estimated to be approximately individuals remaining in Nigeria Oates et al. Cameroon Critically Endangered : Results from surveys undertaken in and indicated that there may be up to Cross River gorillas remaining on the Cameroon side of the border.

Recently the number of Cross River gorilla in Cameroon has been estimated at individuals Oates et al. Although surveys to clarify gorilla distribution are still ongoing and this figure may be subject to change, these results confirm that the Cross River gorilla population is indeed larger than previously believed. The major threats affecting or having affected Cross River Gorilla populations are 1 habitat loss or modification, 2 direct killing for the bushmeat trade , 3 the population is at risk due to its very small size and its highly fragmented distribution.

These gorillas still face an uncertain future as threats to their habitat and from hunting continue to further fragment gorilla groups. However, other threats to the gorillas such as encroachment into their preferred habitat will certainly have an effect in further isolating already existing sub- populations J.

Groves, If lowland forest corridors cannot be secured and if gorillas are deterred from using lowland corridors to reach gorilla groups in other highland sites, inbreeding and loss of genetic variation may imperil isolated groups. Habitat loss is a major threat to gorillas as forests are rapidly being lost to local illegal logging and subsistence agriculture.

There are logging concessions in almost all forest reserves in Nigeria, although not all are being actively logged. Much illegal logging also occurs. In Nigeria and in Cameroon the expansion of agriculture, oil palm plantations, and road networks has led to the widespread degradation and fragmentation of great ape habitat. Hunting has historically threatened the survival of Cross River gorillas. In , it was suggested that in Nigeria twice as many were killed each year as were being born Harcourt et al.

At that time a single gorilla carcass could fetch as much as twice the monthly salary. The hunting of gorillas is now much reduced. There is an occasional report of a gorilla being killed by hunters in the Okwangwo Division of Cross River NP, but there is no direct evidence of any gorillas having been killed at Afi or Mbe in the last fiver years Oates et al.

If habitat loss or degradation is the major threat to the Cross River gorilla population, much recent concern has been focused on the bushmeat trade. Forest is being converted to crop production and livestock grazing in many parts of Africa. Where new routes are opened up for timber or mineral extraction, exploitation of forest animals for food use bushmeat rises in order both to support the incoming labour force and to export bushmeat to urban markets.

Although bushmeat has been, and still is culturally and nutritionally important in many regions, the impact of bushmeat hunting is now more widespread and serious on many species because it is increasing rapidly with increasing access into remote areas, and new markets are being developed to serve rising demand among urban populations, where it is considered a delicacy. Gorillas have been killed for consumption, but in Cameroon local tradition dicates that gorilla meat cannot be sold and therefore less emphasis was placed on gorilla hunting. Bones are used in traditional medecines in both Cameroon and Nigeria and skulls are typically retained as a trophy with much kudos attached to the hunter responsible.

Hands or feet do not seems to be particularly valued. Infants have been sold Nyango at the Limbe Wildlife Center is an example but it seems to be more of an opportunistic event. Another potential general threat to gorillas is exposure to human diseases, particularly for habituated gorillas that come into contact with humans, in areas of gorilla tourism Butynski, Gorilla tourism exposes gorillas to humans and hence to any diseases that humans may be carrying, some of which the gorillas may never have been exposed to before.

At present, this threat is not yet effective for the Cross River gorilla, but an evaluation of habituation for ecotourism has recently be completed at Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary Andrew Dunn, comm. Strict rules will be needed to regulate tourist visits, including the number of tourists per group. Similarly, the WCS Global Health Program is also helping evaluate and suggest ways to minimize the risks of disease transmission between humans including villagers and researchers and livestock and the gorillas of the Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary in Cameroon.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe, often fatal disease that affects humans, gorillas and chimpanzees. Many scientists believe the disease is spread through the butchering and handling of primate bushmeat. So far Cross River gorillas have not been affected by Ebola but this could change. The ss Nigerian civil war could have negatively affected the Cross River gorilla but there is no evidence of this. Accidental entrapment in wire snares used to trap other wild animals can also threaten gorillas.

This threat needs to be assessed in Nigeria -Cameroon border region. International trade in live gorillas and gorilla products, formerly a significant threat to the species, has greatly declined since the gorilla was listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora CITES in In Nigeria the Endangered Species Act of is the legal instrument through which the international treaties are enforceable.

All wildlife in National Parks is protected by law. National laws for control of hunting and capture exist in all countries with gorilla populations, but lack of funds and inaccessibility make wide enforcement of this legislation rare. Most Cross River gorillas occur within forest reserves, wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, they and their habitat have some degree of protection. Takamanda and Mone were created as Forest Reserves during the colonial period for future timber exploitation. One of the only pictures of Cross River Gorilla taken in the wild.

Establishment of a transboundary protected area for the Takamanda-Okwangwo complex, upgrading the protection status of the Takamanda Forest Reserve, developing land-use plans for the Takamanda-Mone-Mbulu area in Cameroon, including a network of protected areas and corridors and a plan for the conservation of Afi-Mbe- Okwangwo area in Nigeria, including some formal conservation status for the Mbe Mountains most likely a community wildlife sanctuary and the maintenance of forested connections between gorilla habitats.

Maintaining and expanding basic research into the ecology, distribution and population biology of the Cross River gorilla, building the capacity of relevant institutions in Nigeria and Cameroon including Government departments, universities, NGOs. Strengthening and expanding conservation education and awareness programmes at all levels, incorporating local community needs into the development of management strategies, including the study of alternative livelihoods options.

Table 1. Eastern genetic forest montane forest Sanctuary monitoring botanical surveys planned for fragmentation as a sub-division. High quality montane up to 2,m presence near future and likely to also result of farming and habitat and strong local support for since hhighlight important species grassland burning conservation.

L'odyssée de l'

Cameroon Bechati Lowland to Ungazetted Part of global hotspot Hunting, Important survey area; mid- land For species richness Conversion of forest Sympatric with elevation and endemism for a for Chimpanzees forest wide range of taxa; many Agriculture, endangered and isolation vulnerable species; sympatric with P. Molecular Ecology Bergl, R. American Journal of Primatology 70, Bermejo, M.

Groves, C. Groves, J. Good news for the Cross River Go rillas? Gorilla Journal Harcourt, A.

Regard Fayard - - Vie pratique - Albertine - Books in French and English New-York

Primate Conservation 73 — Ape tourism and human diseases: How close should we get? International Gorilla Conservation Programme, Kampala. Oates, J. In: Taylor, A. Sunderland-Groves, J. Sarmiento, E. Downloaded 16 May, Comiskey, T. Sunderland and J. Sunderland-Groves eds.

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. The eastern species includes both the eastern lowland G. The Bwindi mountain gorilla could be a third subspecies, Gorilla beringei bwindi Sarmiento et al. Sarmiento et al. Rwanda be called mountain gorillas. Stanford contests this and suggests that the evidence showing the Bwindi and Virunga gorillas to be taxonomically distinct is not well supported.

The following document summarizes the conservation status of the mountain gorilla, Gorilla beringei beringei Matschie, , the nominal subspecies of eastern gorilla. The name beringei was first given by Paul Matschie in , a mammalian taxonomist working at the Humboldt University Zoological Museum in Berlin. Matschie named the species Gorilla beringei in honour of Captain von Beringe the finder of the specimen.

On the ground, gorillas locomote by knuckle-walking. The mountain gorilla is very black and densely furred, with a broad face and massive jaws. Foliage, unlike patchy fruit sources generally and ripe fruit in particular, is widespread and abundant and supports large groups of animals. A number of vegetation zones have been identified in the mountain gorilla habitat of the central Virunga Volcanoes region, which mostly consist of Hagenia-Hypericum woodland with a relatively open canopy and extremely dense herbaceous understorey Watts, Mountain gorillas range up to m in altitude with occasional forays even higher IUCN, Bwindi gorillas tend to live in lower elevations, warmer temperatures and are more arboreal than Virunga gorillas Sarmiento et al.

The area of habitat occupied by the mountain gorilla in the Virungas is approximately km2 and the Bwindi gorillas occupy an area of approximately km2. Gorillas are herbivorous plant-eating. Plant material contains cellulose which is indigestible to many non-herbivorous animals. CMS With regard to digestion, herbivorous animals that do not ruminate re-chew their food as part of the digestive process rely solely on the microbes microscopic bacteria living in their colon. As far as group structure is concerned, gorillas form harems.

It was once thought that gorilla groups contained only one adult male, but around one third of groups in Albertine Rift have been found to host two full-grown males. The females usually join another group or a lone young adult male, whereas the males remain solitary until they can attract females and establish their own groups Robbins, Figure 1. There are two known populations of mountain gorilla, both of which occur in protected areas national parks and reserve. In this report these populations will be referred to as either the Virungas or Bwindi population of mountain gorillas.

Gorillas are found in two widely separated areas of Africa. The western and eastern populations were probably. Subsequently, gorillas have not spread back into the central Congo basin, either because they have not had time, of because the heavily shaded primary forest there does not allow the growth of sufficient ground vegetation to support such a large, predominantly terrestrial animal MacDonald ed. Based on recent estimates Gray et al. Both populations are entirely located within protected areas. The number of mountain gorillas declined throughout the s and early s, and some declines were seen into the s e.

Ts17 Gorilla E

IUCN described a decline in the mountain gorilla numbers in the Virungas, from in the late s, to in to by , with most of the decline occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo section. However, since the mid s, the mountain gorilla appears to be gradually increasing in numbers. Their number is now estimated as a total of gorillas. Their night nests are used to establish the number of gorillas in each group.

Among the unhabituated animals, several infants potentially were missed as they slept together with their mothers in the same nest; or even whole groups might have been missed. Therefore, this number was corrected and the total number was calculated - gorillas. A census conducted in Bwindi in resulted in an estimate of gorillas from 28 groups, along with 7 lone silverback males. A similar number had also been found during the period of to when all groups were identified and monitored by Thomas Butynski and his team.

The Bwindi population is stable and may also be increasing McNeilage et al. The mountain gorilla G. It faces an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild due to its very small population level, habitat loss, poaching, human disease, and war. The mountain gorillas of the Virunga Volcanoes inhabit an area that is shared between three countries, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. The area of habitat occupied by the Virungas mountain gorillas is approximately km2 and that occupied by the gorillas of Bwindi- Impenetrable National Park is approximately km2 Butynski, One group of gorillas travelled through an area of 8.

Solitary male mountain gorillas travel further and expand their home range, and mountain gorilla home ranges typically overlap extensively Watts, Watts found that they used areas less than or equal to 25 km2 and that annual home range size and core area size varied considerably both between groups and across years. Food and male mating competition influence home-range use and core area selection and size.

The Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is It ranges in altitude from 2,m to 4,m. The Bwindi-Impenetrable National Park is km2 hectares and ranges in altitude from 1,m to 2,m. The major threats affecting or having affected mountain gorilla populations are 1 habitat loss or modification and forest encroachment Muruthi et al. Degradation and decline of habitats The mountain gorilla lives in a region where there is a very high human population.

In eastern RDC, Rwanda and Uganda fragments of forest form part of a landscape that supports one of the highest densities of rural human populations in Africa Taylor et al. The main threat to gorillas in DRC is forest clearance by refugees and, although no land has been appropriated from the habitat of the Virunga gorillas, declines may be due to the presence of livestock in the Virungas IUCN, Relatively intensive illegal wood cutting and the extraction of gold and charcoal does occur in certain areas. The Bwindi-Impenetrable National Park population is relatively well protected.

Very recent information suggests that a few mountain gorillas have been killed for their meat Wildlife Direct, In the past mountain gorillas were killed for their heads, hands, and feet, which were sold to collectors, and a few infants have been captured for potential illegal sale to zoos. Binyeri et al. Another potential threat to gorillas is exposure to human dis eases e.

Strict rules are in place to regulate tourist visiting times, the number of tourists per group, limiting the approach of humans to 7 m, and burying human excrement deeper than 30 cm Homsy Up till now mountain gorillas have not been affected, but this could change in the future. The impact of wars and political conflicts is particularly well documented for the mountain gorilla. The early s saw the outbreak of fighting in Rwanda, which by April resulted in a stream of refugees pouring into gorilla habitat in DRC.

Shortly afterwards came the war between the armed forces of DRC and a rebel movement backed by Angola, Rwanda and Uganda. The displacement of refugees during these conflicts led to uncontrolled firewood harvesting, increased poaching in the Virunga National Park and disruption of natural animal migration patterns UNEP-WCMC, b. Three of the four refugee camps in North Kivu were located in or near to the park, and it is estimated that at least , ha of the park were affected by wood harvesting or poaching UNEP-WCMC, b. After the refugees left in , conflict in the DRC led to looting and destruction of infrastructure in the Park.

Kalpers et al. Concern for the protection and management of the site, especially with regards to recurring encroachments, deforestation, poaching, population growth, and the refugee-related problems that have arisen due to civil unrest in Rwanda, led to Virunga National Park being placed on the World Heritage in Danger List in UNESCO, The situation around the Virungas remains unstable, militia groups are still active in the region and there are frequent reports of poaching, deforestation and illegal gold mining in the park UNEP -WCMC, b. Much of the Virungas has clearly been severely affected by this civil war, the continuous political unrest and economic instability.

The ongoing conflict has caused the death of several guards in the last two years, it has made wardening of the area extremely difficult and dangerous, and has been the reason of the killing of at least 9 gorillas in This conflict remains a threat to the Virungas gorillas and to the protected areas.

Accidental entrapment in wire snares used to trap other wild animals is also a threat to the mountains gorillas. The two populations of mountain gorilla are too small to meet theoretical survival criteria, and are vulnerable to stochastic catastrophic events such as outbreaks of disease, sudden wide loss of habitats, and would quickly be reduced by poaching if the vigilance of conservationists were to be relaxed.

International trade in live gorillas and gorilla parts, which used to be a threat, has declined since the gorilla was listed in Appendix I of CITES. The hunting act Law Since , regional governments have had the right to set their own regulations on species protection and to specify hunting seasons, bypassing this law. Effective control of many protected areas in the east of the country has been in the hands of rebel authorities in recent years.

It is also mentionned in the hunting law of and in departmental order of setting the establishment of special conditions for elephants hunting and listing the protected animals ECOLEX. Besides, in accordance with the Order Law relating to the preservation of nature, each person who captures or kills gorillas in an strict nature preserve is exposed to imprisonment penalty from 1 to 10 years. ORTPN has direct responsibility for management of national parks and matters relating to ecotourism.

The Volcanoes NP is therefore under its responsibility. The Department of Environment has overall responsibility for biodiversity conservation. Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is a biosphere reserve. The Uganda Wildlife Statute provides tools for the establishment of wildlife conservation areas, which fall under two categories: wildlife protected areas national parks or wildlife reserves and wildlife management areas wildlife sanctuaries and community wildlife areas.

It is forbidden by the national legislation to capture mountain gorillas Uganda Wildlife Division, a. Uganda Wildlife Statute, No 14 of states that species that migrate into Uganda and that are protected by terms of any international convention or treaty to whom Uganda is part and to which section 91 is applied, will be protected species by this text of law ECOLEX , and the mountain gorilla is included in that text.

As all mountain gorilla populations occur within protected areas national parks and reserve , they and their habitat have some degree of protection. However, political and institutional instability as well as illegal hunting and poaching may undermine such protection. When Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks were created, access to the park was forbidden for everyone except authorised researchers, which resulted in an important fall in illegal activities Nowak, In Bwindi Impementrable National Park extractive use of non-timber forest products is allowed in Bwindi Forest certain zones multiple -use zones of the park.

The taxon is legally protected in all three of its ranging states. Great efforts must be made by the range states to enforce their laws concerning gorillas, including not only effective antipoaching, but also follow-up of the legal process through arrest, and eventually the prosecution of all cases judged guilty. Priority Populations for Mountain Gorillas G. Mountain gorillas surviving in two small populations are apparently stable. The four national parks are managed and supported by the governments of DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, by international conservation NGOs, and partially financed through tourism based on gorillas viewing.

These gorillas are highly vulnerable to disease and poaching but, in comparison with the other gorilla subspecies, they are for the moment relatively secure although given the current insecurity in eastern DRC this situation is precarious and could change quickly. Binyeri, D. M and Kiyengo, C. Gray, M. Oryx, 37 3 : Muruthi, P. Science, Robbins, P.

Stewart eds. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. Behaviour, : Stanford, C. Primates, 42 4 : Taylor, D. Journal of Ecology, Box , Kampala, Uganda. Threatened Species Account. Vedder, A. Watts, D. Behaviour, Consistency, variation, and home range size and stability. International Journal of Primatology, 19 4 : Wildlife Direct, Williamson, E.

Wrangham and E. Ross eds. Wilson, D.

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Reeder editors World Wildlife Fund for Nature. Downloaded 26 May, Eastern lowland gorilla. Congo rangers blog. It is an endemic taxon found only in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. In , Paul Matschie, a mammalian taxonomist working at the Humboldt University Zoological Museum in Berlin described as a new species the gorilla inhabiting the lowlands of eastern Belgian Congo. Colin Groves in revised gorilla taxonomy and recognised Gorilla gorilla graueri the lowland population of eastern gorilla as a subspecies different to the mountain gorilla.

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