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Wildlife Wood Project (WWP)


Ensuring the long-term survival of the western lowland gorilla and its forest habitat across the region, through a combination of approaches including research into status and threats and improving wildlife management in timber concessions.

Image | Western lowland gorilla | © Troy Inman
Species Background

The species ranges across central Africa in the forests of Gabon, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, the Republic of Congo and Angola. Until recently it was thought that there was a single gorilla species with three subspecies (western lowland, eastern lowland and mountain gorillas) but DNA analysis revealed significant differences between eastern and western populations. Today, the western gorilla has two recognized subspecies: Gorilla gorilla gorilla (western lowland gorillas) and Gorilla gorilla diehli (Cross River gorillas). The most populous and wide-ranging is the western lowland gorilla but it is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List due to a population decreased of over 60% in the past 25 years.

Map & Range
Species Threats

Even though they number around 100,000, they have suffered a rapid population decline because of increased hunting for the bushmeat trade, exacerbated by logging and other development activities (which increases forest access and poaching) and the Ebola virus which has caused a series of massive gorilla die-offs in remote forest blocks at the heart of their range since the early 1990s.

Project actions

This project is working with logging companies to ensure that forests allocated to logging concessions contribute to the conservation of wildlife in the Congo Basin’s forests. This is done through the developing of comprehensive wildlife management plans, building capacity of companies and government to implement these plans, and involving local communities in managing their forest resources.

  • In 2007, ZSL formed a partnership with two timber producers (Pallisco and SFID) who manage over 6,000km² of forest
  • Surveys produced information on home ranges of 10 mammal species and specific ways to manage 125,000ha of forest
  • Areas of High Conservation Value identified and recommendations for management
  • CyberTracker© was implemented in both timber companies to monitor illegal activities and the presence of rare and endangered mammals
  • Four wildlife monitoring training modules were developed and 13 timber company staff members attended training workshops
  • Over 600 leaflets with information on preventing the spread of diseases among humans and apes have been distributed among timber company employees and local villagers
  • Awareness campaigns (in conjunction with ASTEVI) reached more than 6,500 forest dependant people.
  • Workshop held to bring together national and international stakeholders involved in the timber industry, wildlife conservation and government to promote best practice in forest management 
  • One poacher was prosecuted and is serving a prison sentence
Future Actions

1)      Establish new partnerships so that wildlife management and monitoring systems can be applied in other forests in and beyond the Congo basin.

2)      Working with international authorities and certification bodies to ensure that laws and policies have clear guidelines for logging companies and incorporate the best wildlife management practices.

3)      The management and monitoring model can be integrated with other systems of forest management such as proposed REDD schemes

Project Leader
Project Collaborators

A female gorilla and her baby are caught on a camera trap in Cameroon

A male silverback gorilla resting in the forest

Measuring the size of a gorilla's nest in a tree

A ranger pauses to compare the size of a gorilla paw to his hand

Cameroon's rainforests need better management and maintenance to preserve them

Project Funding Bodies