Today, is the inaugural World Gorilla Day. It may come as a shock as gorillas may be the most charismatic species on the planet due to their similarities to humans and their current listing as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Why hasn't World Gorilla Day been around before today? Why start today? World Gorilla Day has been created to celebrate both the 50th anniversary of the Karisoke Research Center (operated by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, DFGFI) and raise awareness and funds for their conservation efforts of both subspecies of Gorilla beringei. However, as the DFGI notes on their page, there are numerous organizations working hard to conserve our two gorilla species and their subspecies and such a day is not meant to celebrate just one organization. It is meant to celebrate the many and, most importantly, to celebrate the gorillas who are fighting for their survival.
As previously mentioned, there are two species of gorilla: Gorilla beringei (ssp. beringei and graueri) and Gorilla gorilla (ssp. diehli and gorilla) - both found in the forests of central Africa. Their current distributions are largely restricted to areas not impacted by human activities. Gorilla diets primarily consist of herbs, leaves, stems, bark and fruit; but, G. gorilla ssp. gorilla do feed on social ants and termites. All species are long-lived with life spans expected to be at least 40 years old (the maximum life span is unknown). Poaching, habitat degradation and destruction, and climate change all pose major threats to both species of gorillas. G. beringei subspecies also have the additional threat of civil unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Where can you learn more about gorillas?
There are a lot of different resources for learning more and supporting gorilla conservation efforts. The best place to learn more is probably IUCN's Red List summaries for G. beringei and G. gorilla. Other useful resources are the DFGFI, WWF, The Gorilla Organization, and Gorilla Doctors.
Also, be sure to check out all the amazing footage of gorillas on YouTube to brighten your day! Feel free to share your favorite gorilla facts or videos below!