Rare western lowland gorilla twins have been born in Central Africa, conservationists have said.
The duo are the first set of twins recorded in Dzanga-Sangha Protected Areas in the Central African Republic, which is managed by the country’s government and environmental charity WWF. The healthy babies have been born to mother Malui and father, Makumba, the resident silverback, and brings the family group to six members. They are part of a programme conserving and habituating wild gorillas to humans for tourism and research, a scheme which WWF says provides employment for local people, strengthens links with the community and supports sustainable use of resources.
The western lowland gorilla is the most numerous and widespread of all gorilla subspecies, though exact numbers are not known because they inhabit dense and remote rainforest in central and western Africa. They are threatened by hunting for use as food and for the use of their body parts in medicine and charms, by habitat loss, particularly to the timber trade, and even diseases such as Ebola.
WWF-UK’s Cath Lawson said: “Like the closely related mountain gorilla, western lowland gorillas are critically endangered. These twins are a great sign of hope for the species and testimony to the commitment of those working in Dzanga Sangha. Multiple sets of twins have been recorded for eastern gorillas but it appears to be a rare occurrence for western gorillas.”
David Greer, WWF African great apes programme leader, said: “These are the first twins ever recorded in Dzanga Sangha and their birth is an incredible moment for everyone who has worked so hard to habituate and conserve these gorillas over the past 16 years. These tiny twins are a sign of success in Dzanga Sangha but gorillas continue to face serious threats across Central Africa and their futures are far from secure, which is why WWF is working with governments and partners throughout the region to protect them and their forest habitat.”