Increasing demand for charcoal in East Africa is putting severe pressure on the forests of Uganda, threatening one of the few remaining refuges for the endangered razorback gorilla.

Now you can help via an innovative campaign on Twitter and Facebook called Friend a Gorilla. The site just went live today and as far as I know it is the first time social media has been used to directly connect individuals with "adopted" animals on the other side of the planet.

For $1 you can friend one of five family groups of gorillas all of whom are equipped with GPS trackers. The gorillas you friend will broadcast feeds that report on their various activities, as well as forest ranger blogs and rarely seen video footage of these extraordinary animals.

I just friended Rukumu. He seemed pretty badass.

Proceeds benefit the Uganda Wildlife Authority, which is fighting to protect the gorillas from poachers and help nearby villagers to acquire fuel that is less destructive to the forest.

The geo-tracking feature will be up in the next few days but you can pick out your favorite gorilla right now. It's a little strange to add a gorilla to your "shopping cart" but nevertheless it is a great example of an ingenious application of social media to save the environment. 

Related posts:

• Environmentalism 2.0: Can the Internet save the planet?

• Learn more about the Uganda program to save the gorillas

Gorillas tweet for their lives
Friend-a-gorilla launches Twitter campaign today to save the endangered Razorback Gorillas in Uganda. Become a gorilla's friend for $1 and follow him via Twitte