Gorillas recovering from Ebola outbreak
Tue, 19 Jun 2012 2:32p.m.
By 3 News online staff
New analysis shows a population of western lowland gorillas is rebuilding after a 2004 Ebola outbreak.
Up to 95 percent of the population were killed when the virus hit in the Lokoue forest clearing in the Odzala-Kokoua National Park, in the Republic of Congo.
The gorilla group that visits the Lokoue forest clearing were monitored before the outbreak, then again in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
There were about 380 gorillas before the virus struck - fewer than 40 survived.
Subsequently, gorilla's conservation status changed from "endangered" to "critically endangered" in 2007.
"Six months (of the outbreak) was enough to decimate the population. Estimated by modelling, the outbreak lasted for around a year, from December 2003 to December 2004," study researcher Celine Genton of the University of Rennes in France told LiveScience.
The several solitary silverback males that survived have disappeared. Instead, new adult females have moved into the area and formed new breeding groups.
The signs are positive that the population will recover - the adult females have given birth to several babies.
While the number of gorillas is not yet the same as before the Ebola outbreak, the demographics have returned.
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