A mountain gorilla is lying on its back, looking up and directly at the camera.

Gorillas are closely related to humans and display human-like behaviours and emotions, such as laughter and sadness © Maciej/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0

Read later


During Beta testing articles may only be saved for seven days.

Gamestop Redditors donate their winnings to endangered gorilla fund

The Dian Fossey Fund, established by the largest and longest running gorilla conservation charity, receives over £200,000 from regular people who profited from the recent Gamestop short squeeze.

Following the recent 'short squeeze' orchestrated by a group of people on Reddit, many regular people profited from cheap Gamestop shares.

Some winners displayed a beautiful, hopeful side to humanity by donating over £200,000 to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

The Dian Fossey Fund says, 'We are surprised, thrilled and appreciative of the grassroots donations that have come our way thanks to a group of investors on Reddit. In just one weekend, they donated more than $200,000, primarily through our symbolic gorilla adoption program.

'The Fossey Fund has spent more than 50 years working to protect endangered wild gorillas, and we’ve helped pull them back from the brink of extinction.

'As an organization, we are known for our work to protect wild gorillas and their forest home on a daily basis. But the critical science and protection work that we do is actually a long-term investment in the future of our planet and its people.

'We rely on individual donors who give to us year after year because they know we can be relied upon to be careful stewards of their donations, no matter how large or small. We thank these new donors for their contributions to the success of our mission - because in saving gorillas, we save the planet.'

A female gorilla is walking on all fours across a grassy paddock with her young infant snoozing on her back.

There are 2 species of gorillas and 4 sub-species. Here, a Western lowland gorilla infant snoozes on its mother's back while she roams around. © Cloudtail the Snow Leopard/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

What is a short squeeze?

Short selling is a tactic used by some investors as a way of making money. Investors borrow shares and sell them immediately with the intention of buying them back at a cheaper rate when the value decreases, thereby making a profit.

A short squeeze is when the value of said shares increase drastically and the sellers are forced to buy them back at a loss, to avoid a greater loss. This raises the price of the overall stock, forcing other investors to buy back their shares to avoid the same fate.

Some members on r/wallstreetbets followed the rise and fall of Gamestop's stocks and on the 22 January, orchestrated a short squeeze. This forced stock prices to increase significantly, and many regular people profited.

A lot of the investors who benefited from this explosive event were everyday people. Naturally, these people paid off their debts and bought houses and cars.

Others however, displayed a beautiful, hopeful side to humanity by donating over £237,000 to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

A baby gorilla peaks its head over its mother's body.

The Dian Fossey Fund work to protect the gorilla's biodiverse habitat, the Congo Basin. It is the only place in the world where gorillas live, is the second largest rainforest in the world, and an important piece of the planet’s natural defenses against climate change. © Nik Borrow/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

What is the Dian Foss Gorilla Fund?

Scientist Dian Fossey established the Karisoke Research Centre in Rwanda in 1967 to research and protect endangered mountain gorillas.

On New Year's Eve in 1977, Dian's favourite gorilla named Digit and his group were attacked by six poachers and their dogs. As the silverback of the clan, Digit fought ferociously to protect them and was stabbed five times with spears. The 13 other gorillas that were under his care managed to escape but sadly, the great ape did not survive.

Digit was killed so his head could be sold as a trophy and his hands as ashtrays for $20. Thankfully, the killers were captured and three were imprisoned.

Dian was deeply affected by this which led to her changing conservation plans towards gorillas. At the time, a lot of funds were being donated to large, established organisations who rejected her approach to increase ecotourism and instead, directed the funds towards park officials.

Most of the money went on building new roads and buying new vehicles for park rangers, some of whom were easily bribed by poachers to ignore illegal activities.

So in 1978, Dian founded The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, originally called the Digit Fund in commemoration of her beloved gentle giant. She worked tirelessly for years with various organisations, including National Geographic Society and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to turn things around.

A baby gorilla is in the shaddow of the forest, with a piece of bark in its mouth as it looks at something else off camera.

Mountain gorillas, such as this infant, are critically endangered and need all the help they can get © youngrobv/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Endangered gorillas

Gorillas are the largest living primates in the world, with an adult male growing up to 1.8 metres and weighing a maximum of 227 kilogrammes.

These intelligent creatures are one of the closest living relatives to humans and share 98.3% of the same DNA. They also have individual fingerprints like us, as well as unique nose shape that can be used to identify them from one another.

Gorillas have been known to use tools to achieve actions. For example, wild gorillas have been observed using sticks to learn the depth of water before wading across, bamboos as bridges to help infants climb and sticks to eat ants without being stung. Recently, scientists learned gorillas can mate face to face, a trait once believed to be unique to humans and bonobos.

Sadly, all four sub species of gorillas are endangered due to poaching, habitat destruction and diseases, including the Ebola virus. It is estimated that less than 200,000 western lowland gorillas and less than 300 cross river gorillas exist in the wild.

Gorillas play a valuable role in maintaining the biodiversity of the area they live in. They are important seed dispersers and many large fruit trees depend on them for survival. These ground dwelling apes have a life expectancy of 35-40 years in the wild. Reproduction rate is slow with females giving birth three to four times throughout their lives, making it difficult for the dwindling populations to recover.

Gorillas live in groups, usually consisting of one male known as the silverback, and multiple females and infants. When threatened by humans, leopards or other gorillas, the silverback will protect the group, even at the expense of its own life, just as Digit had done.

People can continue to help this just cause by adopting a gorilla, setting up a monthly donation or buying merchandise on the charity's website.