OUESSO, Republic of Congo (March 9, 2018)— Conservationists from the WCS Congo Program have captured incredible video of a western lowland gorilla newborn living in the rainforests of Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park. The infant was barely a week old when the footage was shot last month, according to the WCS scientists who managed to capture the footage.

For a short video of the infant gorilla, click here.

The young baby gorilla is the offspring of Kingo—a male silverback gorilla well-known to researchers—and a female named Mekome. The infant was born on February 17th near the Mondika Research Center in the Republic of Congo. Scientists estimate that the young gorilla was no more than a few hours old when they first observed the family group’s newest arrival.

“We’re very excited to be witness to the emergence of the next generation of Kingo’s growing clan,” said Mark Gately, Director of WCS’s Republic of Congo Program. “A baby gorilla represents hope for the entire species.”

Mekome’s newest infant is her fifth offspring. A female gorilla generally gives birth to one infant approximately every four years.  The young offspring spends two to three years clinging to and riding on the back of its mother. So a new baby is quite a rare and exciting event.

Unfortunately, the chances for young gorillas surviving in the wild to adulthood are often low, as gorillas face many threats to survival including leopard attacks and disease as well as poaching. Only one of Mekome’s previous offspring is still alive. Members of the Mondika Gorilla Project team are hopeful that Mekome’s newest baby will remain strong and healthy, and help to sustain and grow this population of gorillas.

Both Kingo and Mekome have been observed by WCS conservationists for decades as part of the organization’s ongoing work in and around Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park. Long-term monitoring efforts that enable researchers to follow individual gorillas and their offspring over time are central to WCS’s continuing commitment to strong science and conservation.

The Mondika Gorilla Project was founded in 1995 in the Djéké Triangle, an intact forest located within the Republic of Congo next to the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park. The area was subsequently set aside from logging for conservation. The mission of the Mondika Gorilla Project is to protect the high biodiversity of these forests through the study of the behavior, ecology and health of western lowland gorillas. The success of this project relies on partnering with local communities and indigenous peoples in the development of Congolese conservationists and activities like gorilla eco-tourism.

Daily monitoring of gorilla social groups by Congolese research assistants at Mondika continues to provide discoveries into resource needs important to this species survival. Training in the use of the latest mobile data collection devices and following standardized protocols ensures results from Mondika are available in a timely and comparable manner with other regional ape sites. 

Operating under the Nouabalé-Ndoki Foundation, Nouabalé-Ndoki’s research and monitoring unit works to build understanding of the landscape’s rich wildlife, in support of more effective protection and management. This work is made possible with major support from the U.S Agency for International Development’s Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Foundation for the Sangha Tri-National Trust Fund.

For more information about WCS’s work in Congo, visit: http://wcscongoblog.org Follow: @wcs_congo