Researchers have now found that African mountain gorillas, who are among the closest relatives of man, are severely inbred. They also believe that these animals resorted to the widely discouraged practice of inbreeding when faced with the threat of extinction. Due to their close relation to us in the evolution chain, they are amongst the most intensively studied primates in the wild.
Hunting and destruction of their natural habitat had put these animals at a huge risk. There were only 253 of them left in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1981. Efforts at preserving them and increasing their numbers have helped them increase in number dramatically.