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Shrinking Gorilla population leads to 'harmful mutations': Study

WASHINGTON United States (Xinhua) -- The shrinking population size of eastern lowland gorillas has led to an increase of harmful mutations among this endangered species over the past several decades, showed a recent study.

By comparing genomes of specimens collected from the eastern lowland gorillas over several generations, the scientists find that the gorillas have accumulated harmful mutations as the species’ genetic diversity sharply declined due to habitat losses and inbreeding, according to the study published on the journal Current Biology.

The researchers found that some changes in genes that affect male fertility and disease resistance could leave the species less capable of adapting to sudden changes in their environment or disease outbreaks, which may further threaten the survival of these apes.

The population of the eastern lowland gorillas, also known as the Grauer’s gorillas, which live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has declined by 80 percent over the last several decades.


Uganda calls for relentless gorilla conservation efforts even after numbers rise

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Uganda, the host of the largest number of mountain gorillas in the world, has called for continued efforts to conserve the primates despite their population going up.

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), a state conservation agency, in a statement to Xinhua on Thursday said more efforts are needed to conserve the giant apes if their number is to continue growing.

"We don’t have to be complacent, more is still needed, we have to ensure the population of mountain gorillas continue to increase, this will happen if we put poaching to zero levels and ensuring they don’t contract diseases that can kill them," the statement said.

The statement follows a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which announced that mountain gorillas had been struck off their Red List of Threatened Species.

The body said on Thursday that mountain gorillas among others were no longer a threatened species since their world population had surpassed the 1,000 mark. The increase in the number is attributed to the conservation efforts by the three host countries, Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.

UWA said it will intensify its anti poaching campaigns and do day and night patrols to protect the gorillas.

  Shrinking Gorilla population leads to harmful mutations: suggests study | Coastweek

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Local artists perform during the national celebration of mountain gorilla conservation in Kampala, capital of Uganda. XINHUA PHOTO - CHEN JING
Mountain gorillas, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, were a highly endangered sub-species of primate.

They live in forests that have suffered from considerable human impact in the form of timber extraction and other human activity.

The primates are also a major source of tourism revenue to countries that host them.

According to UWA, tourists who come to see the gorillas contribute a considerable percentage to Uganda’s tourism revenue. Uganda earns over 1.4 billion U.S. dollars from the tourism sector annually.



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