World Gorilla Day [Instagram]

On #WorldGorillaDay, we’re remembering the pioneering mountain gorilla studies conducted by George Schaller in 1959 and 1960.  Sponsored by WCS, Schaller and John Emlen surveyed gorilla populations in Uganda and what was then the Belgian Congo. Their studies helped to establish population data that continues to guide conservationists today. Schaller also conducted further field research into the behavior and ecology of mountain gorillas. Approaching them with “empathy and respect,” as he has written, he spent several months making unprecedented observations of gorillas.  His groundbreaking work dispelled then-popular notions of gorillas as ferocious beasts, and helped to promote an understanding of the gorilla as shy, gentle, and vulnerable.

Image: Gorilla distribution map from Emlen, J. T. and G. B. Schaller. Distribution and status of the mountain gorilla (Gorilla gorilla beringei)—1959. Zoologica 45.5 (1960).

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