Gorilla Giving Tuesday Aims to Give Endangered Apes a Fighting Chance
Grauer’s gorillas are the largest primates on earth—males weigh in at around 500 pounds—but even their great size and strength hasn’t saved these sociable animals from the brink of extinction. Also called eastern lowland gorillas, Grauer’s gorillas are exclusively native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where local violence, poaching, and a shrinking habitat have caused a dramatic 80 percent drop in population over the last two decades. Spurred by this dire threat, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International is raising $50,000 this Giving Tuesday to try to turn things around for these apes.
“Their population has plummeted due to years of civil conflict, mining, hunting, and other threats in Congo,” Erika Archibald, senior communications officer for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, tells me by email. The organization will direct proceeds from their Giving Tuesday push to new teams that will protect, study, and monitor the gorillas.
This fall, Grauer’s gorillas were added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s “critically endangered” list, meaning that without immediate intervention, they face a very real, present threat of extinction in the wild. Illegal hunting is the biggest problem facing Grauer’s gorillas right now.
“We have three teams of trackers—all Congolese from local villages—who spend several weeks in the forest at a time, tracking and monitoring the gorillas’ movements,” says Archibald. “We also use remote cameras in the forest to help get more information.”
Archibald, who’s been with the Gorilla Fund for about 16 years, says this is the organization’s biggest Giving Tuesday effort to date. Individuals can run their own fundraising pages on the site, encouraging social engagement and donations from family and friends. “We have a few amazing successes among our Giving Tuesday fundraiser pages,” Archibald says, “including a long-time supporter from California, a 7-year-old girl, a scientist, and an elementary school… So it’s a very diverse group!”
Faced with the wide rage of charitable choices Giving Tuesday donors have, I asked, why should they choose the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund? “We lead the world in saving and studying endangered gorillas in the wild, as started by Dian Fossey in 1967,” Archibald tells me. “We are focused 100 percent on saving gorillas and have built a model that is astoundingly successful, leading to mountain gorillas being the only wild ape population whose numbers are stable and not plummeting. Now we hope to be able to do the same for Grauer’s gorillas.”
You can donate to the Gorilla Giving Tuesday campaign here.