There is no question that the human race has taken much from the Earth. More and more, people are taking precious resources the Earth offers us without giving anything back. It isn’t just a US problem: it’s worldwide, and especially in developing nations. If you ask some scientists, they’ll tell you that we’ve already passed that point of no return, where no matter what we do to try to make up for it, it can never fully replenish all we’ve taken.
This means that many species of animals are in danger of extinction, whether through habitat loss or loss of a key aspect of survival, like their food supply. The director of the North Carolina Zoo, Dr. David Jones, said, “If we do not change how we interact with the natural world in significant ways, we will soon run out of resources, disrupt the ecosystems in which we live and push hundreds – if not thousands – of species into extinction.”
A Starting Point: Helping Gorillas
He feels that each and every biological institution should be working as hard as they can to support biodiversity, bringing some stability to the ecosystems of the world. Yes, the NC Zoo is making efforts to this effect, but he wants to see more.
What is the NC Zoo doing exactly? They’ve decided to partner with the Wildlife Conservation Society and form the Cross River Gorilla Research & Monitoring Project in Central and West Africa in an effort to save Africa’s most endangered gorilla. The Cross River gorilla is not only the most endangered African gorilla, but one of the 25 most endangered primates in the entire world. Scientists once thought this gorilla was extinct, but to their surprise, discovered remaining gorillas a little less than 20 years ago. In all, there are roughly 300 of them alive today. Habitat destruction and poaching are leading causes for their low numbers.
What Is Being Done?
Relying on GPS tracking technology, park rangers in Africa monitor the travels of the gorillas and record their GPS location data. With the software program Cybertracker and hand held computers, rangers monitor gorilla nests, tracks, sightings, and more, as well as possible poaching sites whenever they come across one.
The software maps the route traveled by the ranger using the GPS location data, showing them areas where they need to patrol more often and gorilla habitats. It’s also helping other animals that coexist with these gorillas.
Over 200 rangers were trained in the use of the Cybertracker system between 2009 and 2010. The data collected by the GPS devices is so valuable, they’ve expanded the program to other projects in the area.
The NC Zoo is involved in a variety of other conservation programs, like the Cameroon Elephant Tracking and Conservation program which also relies on GPS tracking technology. The program focuses on the elephant populations and their interaction with humans. This allows conservation experts to reroute elephant herds before they reach populated areas, putting an end to conflicts between people and elephants there.