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Am J Primatol. 1999;48(1):1-14.

Population structure and group composition of western lowland gorillas in north-western Republic of Congo.

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1
UMR 6552 CNRS-Université de Rennes 1, Station Biologique, Paimpont, France. florence.magliocca@univ-rennes1.fr

Abstract

Population studies are an essential part of conservation actions. Under exceptional observation conditions we studied a western lowland gorilla population visiting the Maya salt-clearing (north of the Parc national d'Odzala, P.N.O., Congo) over an 8 month period; 36 groups and 18 solitary individuals (a total of 420 individuals) have been identified visiting the clearing, which suggests a high gorilla density in the region. Ninety-six percent of the gorillas entered the clearing in groups. One-male groups had a mean size of 11.2. Ninety percent of solitary individuals were silver-back males. Compared with other populations of both lowland gorillas and mountain gorillas, the Maya population had the highest immature rate and the highest number of infants per female. Ecological correlates that could explain the attractiveness of the Maya clearing are discussed. The present status and the renewal rate of the Maya population indicate the need for further studies and confirm the importance of developing eco-tourism in this region as part of the sustainable park management activities developed by the ECOFAC programme (European Union). The results also provide arguments to support the proposal for extending the P.N.O. to include this region, which is rich in salt-clearings and attracts many other key-species of mammal such as forest elephants.

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