Over at Patterico’s, he and his commenters are just having a good laugh at the expense of all those stupid liberals who worry about “endangered species” now that we’ve found 100,000 new Western Lowland gorillas, because even with 100,000 new gorillas, stupid scientists are saying they might still be endangered! Like, there’s 100,000 more of them now! How can 100,000 of anything be endangered?
Of course, what Patterico and his commenters don’t know (or don’t care to know) is that “endangered” has a specific scientific meaning: that the species in question is either considered likely to or already has had its population decrease by eighty percent over three generations. In the case of the Western Lowland gorilla, just because we’ve discovered 100,000 new gorillas doesn’t mean they’re not endangered, because the population is still at obvious risk from – wait, let’s just pause for a second and quote one of his commenters:
It’s not necessarily because “humans are taking over their natural habitat”…
Er, yes, it’s largely because of that. Western Lowland gorillas have been gradually reducing in numbers for two reasons: poaching and destruction of their habitat. (Africans in need of cheap fuel have taken to cutting down jungle as fodder for charcoal.) The Western Lowland gorilla is also threatened by the Ebola virus. Now, of course, humans aren’t to blame for the Ebola virus – but given the speed with which Ebola kills gorillas, the only way Ebola is a major threat to gorillas beyond the level of a single band is if you crowd more gorillas into less habitat than they can handle, which is exactly what humans have been doing.
Oh, and one more thing: remember again that “endangered” is qualified over the span of three generations. A Western Lowland gorilla generation is about thirteen to fifteen years. Do you think there’s still going to be a hundred thousand gorillas in forty years’ time? Because I don’t like their odds with their habitat gradually being destroyed.
(And of course it’s worth remembering that there’s three other species of gorilla – Eastern Lowland, mountain and Cross River – that are all doing much, much worse than Western Lowland gorillas. There’s only 600 or so mountain gorillas and 250-300 Cross River gorillas.)