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|Wildlife Conservation Society|
|The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is the only organization in the world working to protect all of Africa's gorilla populations, specifically the world-renowned mountain gorillas, as well as the eastern lowland gorillas, and western gorillas. WCS began studying these spectacular primates in 1959 with Dr. George Schaller's seminal studies of mountain gorillas in the Virunga Volcanoes region on the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Schaller's work paved the way for future conservation efforts and showed that gorillas were not the raging beasts of myth, but gentle, group-oriented animals, feeding primarily on plants and fruit.
WCS's research on mountain gorillas continued in the 1970's, when researchers Amy Vedder and Bill Weber launched the Mountain Gorilla Project (MGP) in Rwanda. Vedder and Weber's work on mountain gorilla ecology and how economics and human attitudes affect conservation helped save these majestic primates from what many experts at the time considered to be certain extinction. Through a combination of education outreach and ecotourism, the MGP helped rebuild mountain gorilla numbers from a low of about 250 in the late 1970's to its present count of 360 individuals. WCS continues to fund conservation projects in Rwanda, providing a much-needed institutional presence to ensure the protection of this most endangered great ape.