Project Name: The Mbeli Bai Gorilla Study/The Congo
Species: western lowland gorilla
Ecosystem location: forests/northern Congo, Africa
Summary: Research support on the social system and behavior of the western lowland gorilla and other species in Africa's northern Congo.
Busch Gardens continues to support the Mbeli Bai study of western lowland gorillas being conducted in the remote region of the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park in Africa's northern Congo. Coordinated bye the Wildlife Conservation Society and supervised by project director Michael Fay, the study's focus on the rarely seen ecology and social behavior of the lowland gorilla is resulting in ground-breaking data on this fascinating and endangered species.
Studying the lowland gorilla in its natural surrounding is helping provide insights into developing more effective conservation strategies for preserving both the species and its environment. Acquiring such elusive data will also contribute to designing high-quality zoological environments like Busch Gardens' award-winning Myombe Reserve: The Great Ape Domain.
As the project enters its fourth year, data collection is being extended to identify more specific social behaviors of lowland gorillas -- both groups and individuals -- and their interaction with their environment. The research includes social behaviors, non-vocal and gestural communication, range patterns as they relate to food sources and DNA "fingerprinting" which provides genetic descriptions of the Mbeli population. To maximize their exposure to the remote conditions seen in Mbeli, researchers also are studying ecological behaviors of other species in the region when lowland gorillas are not present such as elephants, Congo clawless otters and black and white Colobus monkeys.
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