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Endangered Ugandan gorillas join Facebook, MySpace

Social networks help raise money to save the endangered mountain gorilla.

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He's hairy, his table manners are atrocious, and he wants to be your friend on Facebook.

No, it's not the ex-boyfriend. It's Muhozi, an endangered Ugandan mountain gorilla, who's appearing online as part of a fundraising program the Ugandan Wildlife Authority launched Saturday to help save the species.

Around 340 mountain gorillas — nearly half of the 740 remaining worldwide — live in Uganda's lush Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and 40 more live in another Ugandan reserve. The rest live in the Virunga mountain range, which stretches from Uganda into Rwanda and the war-ravaged Congo.

Despite their size — a male silverback can reach over 7 feet and weigh 400 pounds — the gorillas are threatened by poachers who kill them for meat, farmers and charcoal-burners who encroach on their habitat, and the indiscriminate bullets of rebels on the run. They must be protected by rangers with automatic rifles.

The Wildlife Authority is hoping that fans will befriend a gorilla on Facebook or MySpace or follow it on Twitter in return for a minimum donation of $1. The money will be used to hire extra rangers to protect the gorillas and safeguard their habitat.

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