Despite years of chaotic warfare in and around their habitat in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the population of a group of Grauer's gorillas has grown, researchers say.
Researchers from the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society ventured into the DRC's Kahuzi-Biega National Park recently to take a census of the Grauer's population for the first time since 2004, the organization reported on its website.
They counted 181 individuals, a "small but significant" increase over the 2004 population of 168, they said. The overall population of Grauer's gorillas - also known as eastern lowland gorillas - is less than 4,000, the society said.
The census team from the society and the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature combed 230 square miles of higher-altitude forest; it was too dangerous to attempt a count in the lowland, the society's Dr. Andy Plumptre said.
"We had several close calls with armed militias during the survey," said Deo Kujirakwinja, the society's Albertine Rift coordinator in the DRC. "Thankfully, no one was hurt, and our census result is positive news for the conservation community."