Recent outbreaks of Ebola among people in Africa also killed thousands of gorillas, animals already threatened by hunting, a new study reports.
Outbreaks in Congo and Gabon in 2002 and 2003 killed as many as 5,500 gorillas and an uncounted number of chimpanzees, a research team led by Magdalena Bermejo of the University of Barcelona in Spain reports in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.
While conservationists had raised concern about gorilla mortality previously, Bermejo’s study provides an estimate of how many died in the epidemic.
“Add commercial hunting to the mix, and we have a recipe for rapid ecological extinction,” the researchers wrote. “Ape species that were abundant and widely distributed a decade ago are rapidly being reduced to a tiny remnant population.”
In case anyone didn’t see Outbreak, Ebola is one of the nastier diseases you (or your favorite simian) can contract, marked by a delightful hemorrhagic fever with the added bonus of vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, pain. Oh, death too. In fact, one of the reasons Ebola isn’t more of a problem is that its *too* lethal, insofar that it often kills its host faster than the infection occurs, despite being quite infective.