Wildlife Extra writes about this video:
Rwanda’s mountain gorillas star in new documentary – watch it here
April 2014: Mountain gorillas at the Volcanoes National Park are the subject of a new 15 minute documentary entitled Hope which you can watch [above here]. The short film revisits the mountain gorillas at the park, nearly 47 years after Dian Fossey began her work in the region, and explores the extreme, intensive and sometimes dangerous methods employed to protect the great apes.
The film, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, takes a historical look back to 1967 when Dian Fossey began her work. Fewer than 300 mountain gorillas remained at the time, their population ravaged by poachers, who for years targeted the gorillas to make money, selling infant gorillas to zoos or the hands and heads of the adults as trophies to wealthy tourists.
Dian Fossey was murdered in 1985, her original research centre destroyed, rebuilt and then destroyed again during the civil war in Rwanda in the 1990s. However, despite adversity, the work never stopped. Today the Karisoke Research Center has a new home where 120 people continue Dian’s work, as the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.
The charity employs teams of trackers who follow the gorillas every day. They monitor each gorilla, ensuring its safety and health, risking their lives in a region that is still plagued by violence.
“The number of mountain gorillas had become so depleted in Rwanda by the late 1960s that extreme measures were needed to protect the remaining population and allow it to increase,” said David Attenborough. “The work at the Volcanoes National Park by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International absolutely must continue, if we are to protect this species of great ape, which is still critically endangered. The film Hope will once again bring to light the fragile existence of the mountain gorillas and the work that goes into protecting them. By watching and sharing this very important film you will be helping the people saving the gorillas.”
At the beginning of July, Rwanda celebrates its annual Kwita Izina, a traditional gorilla naming ceremony: here.
Mountain gorillas in Rwanda could run the risk of inbreeding, as females often stay in their natal group well into adulthood, which means living closely with their fathers, usually the dominant male in the group. However, in these circumstances they appear tactically to avoid mating with their fathers, according to Linda Vigilant and her research group from the Max Planck Institute for Anthropology in Germany, published in Springer’s journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology: here.
Mountain gorillas could survive for thousands of years at very low population levels due to resistance to the genetic effects of inbreeding: here.