NEW YORK, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The Republic of Congo has declared a new national park to protect a population of 125,000 western lowland gorillas, a U.S. conservation group says.
The Wildlife Conservation Society, based in New York, reported the 1,765-square-mile Ntokou-Pikounda National Park will safeguard the western lowland gorillas as well as around 850 elephants and 950 chimpanzees.
"The Republic of Congo has shown the world its commitment to protect the largest population of gorillas on the planet," WCS President Cristian Samper said. "We commend the Congolese government for its leadership and foresight to set aside lands so that wildlife can flourish."
After the discovery by WCS researchers in 2008 of more than 125,000 western lowland gorillas in northern Republic of Congo, the government pledged to protect the Ntokou-Pikounda landscape with an eventual national park.
Western lowland gorillas are one of four recognized gorilla sub-species, along with mountain gorillas, eastern lowland gorillas and Cross River gorillas, and all are considered endangered, a WCS release said Thursday.