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Remote cameras confirm healthy populations of critically endangered eastern lowland gorillas in community-managed reserve

New camera trap images from the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Tayna Nature Reserve capture family group of endangered eastern lowland gorillas

For immediate release, April 20, 2023

Eastern Lowland Gorilla family troop captured with remote field camera in Tayna Nature Reserve.
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For immediate release
April 20, 2023
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The critically endangered eastern lowland gorilla, also known as Grauer’s gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri), is one of the least studied primates, with no more than 6,800 individuals left in the world. Eastern lowland gorillas are considered one of the world’s most endangered primates and Tayna Nature Reserve (Tayna) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the gorillas’ last strongholds. Tayna is home to an estimated 150+ individuals of this critically endangered primate.

Newly captured images from camera traps have recorded two infant-mother pairs in the last year, further confirming the presence of healthy family groups of eastern lowland gorillas in Tayna. 

“For a critically endangered population where every individual counts, these mother-infant pairs provide hope for the future of gorillas in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said Katie Fawcett, GRACE program director. “They also showcase the success of Tayna as a reserve created and managed by local communities. Healthy gorilla populations survive here because of the commitment of Congolese communities and our efforts to co-create conservation solutions.”  

Located near Tayna, Re:wild partner Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center operates the world’s only sanctuary for rescued eastern lowland gorillas. More than a sanctuary, GRACE also works with local communities on conservation education, forest protection, and sustainable livelihoods to help secure a future for eastern lowland gorillas and to foster a peaceful coexistence between humans and gorillas. 

The local community is an integral part of the monitoring effort. All monitoring teams are hired and trained from local communities, in partnership with the elected management authority, Réserve des Gorilles de Tayna (RGT). Two teams follow one day behind a single gorilla group, providing a continuous presence in an area of the reserve with a high density of gorillas. A third team places camera traps in the forest and systematically surveys the remainder of the reserve. Vital monitoring information, including these types of camera trap images, help conservationists answer questions about this little-studied species that will help protect them. 

“In our annual community meeting to share progress with local communities and stakeholders, these camera trap images were a source of much excitement,” said Jackson Kabuyaya Mbeke, GRACE DR Congo director. “Gorillas are not easy to see in the wild, especially in the dense forests of Tayna. To see the gorillas from Tayna that we are working together to protect – it was a wonderful moment for everyone in the room.”

Tayna is a community-managed reserve and the long-standing relationship between GRACE, RGT and local communities makes the monitoring program possible. 

“We are continuously inspired by the commitment of GRACE in protecting the eastern lowland gorilla,” said Mary Brown Re:wild senior manager of conservation partnerships. “Despite the challenges they face in one of the most remote places in the world, GRACE is providing a lifeboat for this critically endangered primate, and doing so hand-in-hand with local communities. We would love to see their successful model replicated for other threatened species.”

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Photo: Eastern Lowland Gorilla family troop captured with remote field camera in Tayna Nature Reserve. (photo by Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center)

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Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center
GRACE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in the U.S. that operates the world’s only sanctuary for critically endangered Grauer’s gorillas, also known as eastern lowland gorillas, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. GRACE cares for 14 orphaned gorillas rescued as infants from wildlife trafficking with a goal to return rehabilitated gorillas to the wild. At GRACE, the gorillas live in a single gorilla group that functions as a surrogate family and spend their days in protected forest habitats. GRACE also leads field research and partners with local communities on education and conservation initiatives to protect a critical population of wild gorillas living in Tayna Nature Reserve. Learn more at

Re:wild protects and restores the wild. We have a singular and powerful focus: the wild as the most effective solution to the interconnected climate, biodiversity and human wellbeing crises. Founded by a group of renowned conservation scientists together with Leonardo DiCaprio, Re:wild is a force multiplier that brings together Indigenous peoples, local communities, influential leaders, nongovernmental organizations, governments, companies and the public to protect and rewild at the scale and speed we need. Learn more at



Milo Putnam

Lindsay Renick Mayer

Rory Keating
Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center

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