Bid to preserve gorillas in Africa's midst

1st Nov 2013

Africa is the proud home of the mountain gorilla; a fascinating species which attracts multitudes of wildlife-loving visitors on tailor-made holidays and group tours every year.

But their numbers have declined to fewer than 800, according to the Gorilla Organisation conservation group.

British naturalist Sir David Attenborough has this week announced a worldwide fundraising campaign towards their preservation.

Sir David is using technology to help fulfil an ill friend's wish in an isolated African jungle over three decades ago.

The crowdfunding project, launched on Thursday October 31, aims to raise £110,000 to save African mountain gorillas.

Crowdfunding involves going online and getting a mass of people, or crowd, to directly finance a cause collectively.

Sir David's battle to save mountain gorillas started when he first travelled to Rwanda in 1978 to capture their plight in the BBC's Life on Earth series.

Here, he met American zoologist Dian Fossey, who persuaded him to try and stop poachers killing gorillas.

Poachers were selling their skulls as trophies and their hands as ashtrays, Sir David said.

The TV presenter said: "Before we left, Dian was on her sick bed and I went to thank her and she said 'please, please, please help spread the news - there are only 200 of them left in the wild', so I promised I would do something."

Sir David sought the help of Fauna and Flora International on his return.

The group hired security patrols to safeguard gorilla numbers.

It also started education and tourism programmes for locals to understand the value of preserving the apes' habitat.

Sir David said the population started to grow, but work still needs to be done and hopes crowdfunding will help bring the gorilla's plight to a worldwide audience.

An inaugural crowdfunding conference is being staged in London on Friday November 1.

Sir David and Fauna and Flora International hope to reach their target for Rwandan mountain gorillas by December 11.

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