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Discovery of Mountain Gorilla

Despite public awareness of gorillas’ species, their discovery occurred about one century ago, in 1902. There are lots of controversies and ideas concerning their reveal, but the key fact is that gorillas are vivid examples of how valuable and magnificent African animal world is.

Less people know that the first one to encounter with giant gorilla was German officer Oscar von Beringe in Eastern Africa. By that time locals knew that small gorillas’ habitat embraced certain parts on the west, and discovery of gorillas in rainforests of German East Africa was an obvious surprise. In particular, von Beringe shot giant gorilla thousands kilometers away from their natural habitat. Scientists and zoologists neglected this fact because Oscar von Beringe had no scientific or even specific educational background. However, their opinion changed rapidly as they received the skeleton of murdered animal. A new species was called mountain gorilla, insomuch as it was much bigger than common ones, which were renamed into western lowland gorillas (due to natural environment).

The next stage in gorillas’ study occurred several decades later; it is associated with the name of Carl Akeley. Despite his fame of devoted conservationist and animal rights’ defender, his work in Africa started with killing these giant primates. In particular, while working at American Museum of Natural History he received an assignment to kill five gorillas for scientific research. After accomplishment of the task, Akeley returned to Africa, but in face of passionate environmentalist.

To be more précised, he put all his efforts in gorillas’ protection, alerting an attention of press and international society. One of his biggest achievements was an establishment of Alberta National Park in 1925 (Virunga National Park to date). The idea was to protect mountain gorillas’ population in their essential environment, which is why Akeley needed the permission of Belgian authorities to start the conservation. Eastern Africa was one of the Belgian colonies at the moment. Without exact population estimates Carl Akeley convinced King Albert I of Belgium in person that a national reserve would be the most effective solution of the problem. It is the story how the first biosphere reserve emerged in Africa. This park is also a place where famous scientist was buried; unfortunately, he died during the first expedition aimed to study gorillas’ living habits.

 There are at least two confirmed facts familiar to people: first, gorillas are on the verge of extinction due to massive hunting and poaching; second, these primates are pretty peaceful and calm animals. The last one was proved due to numerous scientific investigations, as far as several zoologists managed to live within gorillas’ band. This merit is assigned to Dian Fossey and George Schaller. The last one succeeded to live a whole year with gorillas, armored with camera and binocular. His deed was honored with international recognition and glory.