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Mt Tshiaberimu Conservation Project

A small population of Eastern gorillas, once believed to be their own sub-species, Gorilla rex pygmalion, live within Congo’s Virunga National Park, on the steep slopes of Mt Tshiaberimu. At 2,900 m, Mt Tshiaberimu, or ‘Mountain of the Spirits’, is the highest point on the western escarpment of the Albertine Rift, rising a staggering 1,700 m above Lake Edward, Semliki River, and the Rwizi Plains, which separate it from the Rwenzoris (see map and satellite image).

Because this rare gorilla population is isolated from other gorilla habitats in the Rift, Mt Tshiaberimu is a conservation area of great scientific importance.

In 1998, when with a donation from bestselling author Michael Crichton the Gorilla Organization started supporting their protection, there were only 16 gorillas remaining on the mountain. Ten years later, after an intensive programme of community-based projects and close monitoring by teams of rangers, the population had increased by 25% to 20.