Action: Guard habituated primate groups to ensure their safety/well-being
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- A controlled, before-and-after study in Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo found that a population of mountain gorillas increased over 41 years after being guarded against poachers, alongside other interventions.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A controlled, before-and-after study in 1967-2008 in tropical moist montane forest in Volcanoes-, Mgahinga-, and Virunga National Parks in Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo found that a mountain gorilla Gorilla beringei beringei population where individual animals were closely guarded against poachers alongside ten other interventions, increased in size over time. Annual population growth was 4.1%, resulting in an overall population increase of 168% over 41 years. No statistical tests were carried out to determine whether this increase was significant. Increased protection through the guarding of gorillas explained 60% of the difference in growth rates between this population (treatment) and a second, unguarded population in the same area (control). The remaining 40% were likely accounted for by veterinary interventions for snares, respiratory disease, and other life-threatening conditions. As part of an ecotourism- and research project, gorillas in the guarded population were habituated to human presence, where visitors/researchers had to follow strict health procedures; these included keeping a safety distance to the gorillas, wearing face-masks, spending only a limited amount of time with gorilla groups, ensuring that visitors/researchers were healthy, and disinfecting visitor’s/researcher’s clothes, boots etc. Dead gorillas were clinically examined. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.