December 2, 2008

Year Of The Gorilla Launched By UN Officials

The U.N. is focusing on fund raising as it launches the "Year of the Gorilla", an effort to raise half a million euros ($630,000) for primates threatened with extinction from disease, hunting and deforestation.

The U.N.-backed Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals said they would use the money to fight the animals' biggest threats.

"We need to use the resources that we raise to promote more gorilla-watching tourism, to get more equipment and infrastructure to help rangers combat poaching," Robert Hepworth, an official with the Convention, said. "We need to do more to conserve their habitat."

During a ceremony in Rome, the "Year of the Gorilla" was launched with the help of Prince Albert II of Monaco and representatives from more than 100 governments who are gathered to discuss increasing measures for nearly 30 species endangered by pollution, climate change and over-hunting.

Experts say gorillas are dying off because of diseases including Ebola, deforestation and armed conflicts. They are also hunted for meat and their babies are captured for pets.

Earlier this year, a report released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and other groups warned that nearly half of the world's 634 species and subspecies of primates are threatened with extinction from human activity.

Experts say the survival of gorillas in Asia is especially gloomy, where more than 70 percent of primates were on the group's "Red List" of vulnerable or endangered species.


On the Net: