A new research that was conducted by a team of twenty-three researchers has revealed some insights into conservation and inbreeding habits among Mountain gorillas. The analysis of the research has established that the critically vulnerable apes are burdened with a severe sexual union that puts them at risk of extinction.
“There are extraordinarily high levels of sexual union from these sub – species Gorillas which are from the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.” Chris Tyler-Smith of Britain’s Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute stated.
The number of Gorilla Mountains is said to have declined largely since the early 80’s. However, despite the danger of extinction, scientists have indicated that they are still optimistic about their survival.
The researchers have argued that the high chances of survival and growth into large numbers will only be made possible if conservation efforts are sustained. This is further resisting encroachment on their habitat.
The study that involved a whole genome sequencing of eastern lowland gorillas discovered a huge loss of genetic diversity which is a result of sexual activity with shut relatives brought along by the tiny population size.
As a result of mating with close relatives, the mountain Gorillas has inherited identical segments from both parents. This inbreeding is likely to intensify the occurrence of diseases, as well as environmental change. This will in return reduce the genetic ability of adaption that will cause a larger hardship of harmful mutations.
Surprisingly, the most harmful mutations that can stop proper working of genes are less common than in other gorilla subspecies. This means that the mountain gorillas have since adapted to survive in small populations.
Geneticist Aylwyn Scally has since confirmed that despite the calculations that have revealed a dramatic collapse in numbers during the last century, they have not yet crossed any genetic threshold of no return. We just need to continue conserving them even as they face the threats associated with hunting and transmittal diseases.