U.N. declares 2009 Year of the Gorilla

Dec. 3, 2008 at 12:26 AM
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ROME , Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Famed conservationist Jane Goodall is calling for an international effort to save gorillas in Africa.

"It is time for us to pool all of our resources toward saving these magnificent creatures," she said Monday at the launch of the United Nations Year of the Gorilla 2009.

U.N. environment officials said the effort will focus on the use of low-volume wood-burning stoves to protect forest habitat, alternative livelihoods to replace bush meat hunting with beekeeping and the promotion of ecotourism as a way to save the critically endangered animals.

"Flagship species such as the gorilla can be a powerful catalyst for improved conservation and the more intelligent management of economically-important ecosystems," U.N. Environment Program Executive Director Achim Steiner said in a statement.

There are only 700 mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, the United Nations said. About 300 Cross River gorillas remain in Cameroon and Nigeria, while the eastern lowland gorilla in the Congo has plummeted from 17,000 to about 5,000 in the last 10 years.

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