Assessing Initial Reintroduction Success in Long-Lived Primates by Quantifying Survival, Reproduction, and Dispersal Parameters: Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in Congo and Gabon
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- King, T., Chamberlan, C. & Courage, A. Int J Primatol (2012) 33: 134. doi:10.1007/s10764-011-9563-2
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Postrelease monitoring is an important aspect of reintroduction projects, one outcome of which is to allow an assessment of the initial success of the reintroduction, often measured by quantifying survival and reproduction rates. In long-lived species, accurate estimations of demographic parameters are difficult to obtain, and therefore assessment of reintroduction success in such species is challenging. To assess the initial success of a reintroduction program for the long-lived, slow-reproducing, and critically endangered western lowland gorilla Gorilla gorilla gorilla, we analyzed postrelease monitoring data from 2 reintroduced populations, in the Batéké Plateau region of the Republics of Congo and Gabon, to quantify several demographic parameters, and compared our results with published data on wild gorilla populations. Annual survival rate of the 51 released gorillas was 97.4%, 9 females gave birth to 11 infants at an annual birth rate of 0.196 births per adult female, and first-year survival of the infants was 81.8%. Annual birth rate within the reintroduced populations is not significantly different from that given for wild western gorilla populations, and other demographic parameters fall within the range of published data for wild gorilla populations. Our analysis illustrates that the reintroduction program has been successful in terms of the initial measures of postrelease survival and reproduction, and our quantitative data should facilitate the development of a population model that can predict the probability of population persistence and therefore provide an indication of longer-term reintroduction success.