WESTERN LOWLAND GORILLA

There are two lowland gorillas native to West Africa: the western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), which is the most numerous of the four gorilla subspecies, with over 100,000 individuals in the wild, and the Cross River gorilla (Gorilla diehli), of which only a tiny population of a few hundred remains. Both are listed by the IUCN as Critically Endangered because of the fact that their populations have declined by over 80 percent during the past 25 years—and are projected to continue dropping over the coming decades. Causes for the increasing scarcity include habitat loss and illegal commercial hunting by poachers, who sell gorillas for food in West African markets. But the largest killer of gorillas has been a deadly illness—the incurable ebola virus—which has ended the lives of up to 90 percent of these great apes in some forest areas.

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