Story of Support
Gorillas are one of our closest relatives, sharing 98% of our genes. These highly intelligent apes capture our imagination with their large, imposing size, yet shy and gentle ways. Few people have heard of Grauer’s gorillas, the largest of our ape cousins. They only live in Central Africa in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a region that has endured decades of horrific war, which claimed the lives of over 5 million people. Armed groups continue to operate in remote forests, jockeying for control of Congo’s vast mineral deposits. They hunt wildlife in the process, including gorillas. Infant gorillas are also captured then kept or sold illegally as pets. In just 20 years, 80% of Grauer’s gorillas have been lost. These Critically Endangered gentle giants are now teetering on the brink of extinction, with only 3,800 remaining.
In a remote corner of Congo, a small Congolese-led organization is making a big difference for Grauer’s gorillas. The Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (or GRACE) rescues orphaned gorillas, nurses them back to health, then gives them what they need most: an opportunity to be with other gorillas. The gorillas at GRACE – all orphans – form a tight-knit surrogate family and, ultimately, help heal each other. Fourteen gorillas now have a second chance thanks to GRACE and are awaiting reintroduction back into the wild where they can once again live free. GRACE also is working with local communities on conservation education, forest protection, and sustainable livelihoods to ensure orphan gorillas and their wild counterparts have a future in Congo.