Rare conservation win: Mountain gorilla population ticks up

WASHINGTON (AP) — Once facing near-extinction, mountain gorillas are slowly rebounding.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature Wednesday updated the species’ status from “critically endangered” to “endangered.” The designation is more promising, but still precarious.

Tara Stoinski, president of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, calls it a remarkable conservation success and a beacon of hope.

Mountain gorillas live in lush and misty forests along a range of dormant volcanoes in east Africa. Their habitat falls inside national parks spanning parts of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In the 1960s and ’70s, Fossey’s research helped draw international attention to mountain gorillas, and she had projected that the primates could wind up extinct by 2000. Instead, their populations have been slowly increasing thanks to sustained and well-funded international conservation efforts.