The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is one of the most active conservation charities on the planet. Since it was founded in 1961, it has won more than five million supporters who help fund its mission “to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.”
The charity currently works in more than 100 countries and supports approximately 1,300 conservation projects around the world, including the protection of biomes (oceans, forests and freshwater ecosystems), assisting with efforts to reduce pollution and halt climate change, and protecting endangered species such as gorillas.
It is instantly recognisable by its iconic panda logo, and it was one of the first environmental charities to spearhead the ‘adopt an animal’ trend.
Today, the charity continues to offer members of the public the opportunity to ‘adopt’ a gorilla, but its gorilla conservation work is primarily focused around the Virunga National Park in the Congo Basin. Most of these donations go towards monitoring equipment for the park’s rangers who risk their lives every day protecting the indigenous gorilla population from poachers.
With more than 50 years’’experience working with gorillas, WWF knows more than most about the threats that they face, and the issues involved with their conservation.
WWF’s African Great Apes Programme
The WWF African Great Apes Programme is dedicated to raising awareness of gorillas, bonobos and chimpanzees, and to providing protection where possible. More recently, its efforts have been concentrated around the Virunga National Park – one of the oldest national parks in Africa, and home some of the last remaining communities of mountain gorillas.
Set in the midst of the impoverished and war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, Virunga’s gorilla population is particularly at risk from the illegal (but extremely profitable) trade in gorilla products. WWF funds a series of anti-poaching patrols at the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN), and provides radio equipment and protective clothing for park rangers. The charity also works closely with local governments and schools to help raise awareness of the importance of conservation and what people can do to protect the natural environment of the gorillas.
Building a Brighter Future
The charity treats gorilla conservation as one of its priority issues, and it believes that education is the most vital tool in the war against extinction. Human activities such as deforestation, mining and oil drilling are resulting in a critical loss of habitat for gorillas and other great apes, and unless these activities are dramatically scaled back or stopped, they could spell the end for some of the most at risk communities of gorillas.
By speaking directly to international governments and global corporations, WWF is joining the call to work for conservation in day to day life, by avoiding the by-products of these activities and supporting the rangers, conservationists, researchers and volunteers on the ground.