Where did all the primates go?

I thought this was a story in The Onion at first because it seemed so unplausible that wildlife experts just happened to stumble upon 125,000 western lowland gorillas just chillin’ in a swamp in the Congo. The gorillas were discovered by hunters, of all people, and experts had no idea there were there.

It’s like looking underneath a couch cushion and finding $50 instead of 30 cents. “It’s pretty astonishing,” Hugo Rainey, one of the researchers who conducted the survey for the U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society, told CNN Tuesday.

Astonishing indeed. Diane Fossey would weep tears of blood at this news. You know, if she were alive and all that. Details, details. The discovery is a boon. The last population survey of these gorillas was conducted in the mid-eighties and at that time there were only 100,000 or so gorillas. Since then, wildlife experts have assumed the population numbers have decreased to the ballpark of 50,000.

So this discovery essentially tripled their population. Though their estimates are based on the number of gorilla nests present at the site and not an actual hard count. Despite the discovery, the western lowland gorilla will remain on the critical endangered list.

“Separately, a report released today finds that 48 percent of the world’s primates — a group of humankind’s closest relatives that includes chimpanzees, orangutans, gibbons and lemurs — face extinction.

Shit, not cool.

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