美國野生動物保育協會(Wildlife Conservation Society，WCS)近日公佈一項在中非剛果共和國境內的研究資料，表示現有超過12萬5千隻瀕危的西部低地金剛猩猩(western lowland gorillas)隱居在偏遠的北邊森林裡。這份來自野生生物保育協會以及剛果科學家們針對這類受迫害金剛猩猩的考察檔案顯示，其他瀕危物種的復育也很有希望。
另外，野生動物保育協會在與該國政府合作近20年裡，也協助建立了Nouabalé-Ndoki國家公園，經營Lac Tele群落保留區(Lac Tele Community Reserve)，並和保護區外合法伐木的公司合作，減少非法捕獵。
除西部低地金剛猩猩外、還有山地金剛猩猩(mountain gorillas)、東部低地金剛猩猩(eastern lowland gorillas)及跨河金剛猩猩(Cross River gorillas)共四個亞種。在世界自然保育聯盟（IUCN）的「瀕危物種紅皮書」中，除了山地金剛猩猩屬於瀕危，其餘所有亞種都被列為嚴重瀕危，但是現在只有野生生物保育協會針對這四個金剛猩猩亞種做保育工作。
Unknown to the outside world, more than 125,000 endangered western lowland gorillas have sheltered in the remote northern forests of the Republic of Congo in Central Africa, the Wildlife Conservation Society revealed today. Documented by WCS and Congolese scientists, the discovery of these imperiled animals shows that there is hope for the conservation of other endangered species, scientists said.
The new census of these Critically Endangered gorillas was revealed at a press conference during the week-long International Primatological Society Congress in Edinburgh. The census found more than 125,000 western lowland gorillas living in two adjacent areas covering 18,000 square miles.
"These figures show that northern Republic of Congo contains the mother lode of gorillas," said Dr. Steven Sanderson, president and chief executive of the Wildlife Conservation Society. "This discovery should be a rallying cry for the world that we can protect other vulnerable and endangered species, whether they be gorillas in Africa, tigers in India, or lemurs in Madagascar," Sanderson told reporters.
Successful long-term conservation management of the country's protected areas is partly responsible for the survival of these gorillas, and the remoteness and inaccessibility of some of their key locations as well as a food-rich habitat contributed to their survival, WCS said.
WCS has worked with the government of Republic of Congo in the northern area of the country for nearly 20 years, helping establish the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park and manage the Lac Tele Community Reserve while working with logging companies outside of protected areas to reduce illegal hunting.
Western lowland gorillas inhabit parts of seven Central African nations. Estimates from the 1980s placed the entire world population of these gorillas at fewer than 100,000. Scientists had believed that over the past 25 years this number had been cut in half by hunting and disease.
The new census that documented the existence of an additional 125,000 gorillas was the result of intensive field work carried out by the Bronx Zoo-based WCS and the government of Republic of Congo.
Researchers combed rainforests and isolated swamps to count the sleeping nests gorillas construct each night from leaves and branches.
In the Ntokou-Pikounda region researchers found 73,000 gorillas, and another 52,000 were documented in the Ndoki-Likouala landscape - including a previously unknown population of nearly 6,000 animals living in an isolated swamp.
Population densities of eight gorillas per square kilometer were recorded in one particularly rich forest patch, which ranks among the highest gorilla densities ever recorded. WCS cautioned that many of the gorillas live outside of existing protected areas, though the government of Congo has committed to creating a new national park in the Ntokou-Pikounda region.
Across Central Africa, gorillas are threatened by hunting for bushmeat and the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, which kills apes as well as humans. WCS is working with partners to combat Ebola, eliminate commercial hunting, and secure this last stronghold for Africa's apes.
Western lowland gorillas are one of four gorilla subspecies, which include mountain gorillas, eastern lowland gorillas, and Cross River gorillas. All are classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, except eastern lowland gorillas, which are classed as Endangered.
The Wildlife Conservation Society is the only conservation group working to safeguard all four subspecies.
WCS's conservation work in Central Africa was funded in part from admission fees to the Bronx Zoo Congo Gorilla Forest exhibit, which has raised more than $8.5 million for conservation in Central Africa since it opened in 1999.