Poaching is one of the major threats hindering gorilla tourism in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It's unfortunate that a high number of mountain gorillas both young and old have been lost to poaching for unknown reasons. In the 1990’ the world almost lost the endangered mountain gorillas to extinction by poaching. It's at this time that Dian Fossey an American primatologist left her home and came to the Virunga massif to save gorillas. Unfortunately, Dina Fossey lost her life to save gorillas but her campaign led to the survival of these endangered species up to present. The good news is that the rate of poaching has presently reduced in all gorilla national parks. Great thanks to respective anti-poaching programs and government bodies which have seen the number of mountain gorillas rise to 1004 today. The reasons why mountain gorillas are killed include among others:
Some people especially the indigenous dwellers of gorilla habits enjoy feasting on gorilla meat. These set traps in the trails of mountain gorillas, which catch innocent gorillas especially infants. Fortunately, mountain gorillas have nowadays learnt to unset some poachers’ traps, which has reduced on a number of gorillas lost to snares. Besides eating, poachers sell gorilla meat in the black market to earn money.
Local people especially traditional healers with a strong attachment to traditional medicines believe that some parts of mountain gorillas are medicine to certain diseases. Local witches kill gorillas so as to get certain parts that they use for magic and charm.
The fact that mountain gorillas are close relatives to human beings, the endangered apes can make such a good pet. Some folks have resorted to poach baby gorillas and sell them in the black market as pets. Selling a baby gorilla abroad comes along with huge sums of money which have continued to entice some people to poach these innocent apes.
Some mountain gorillas have accidentally fallen victims of poaching. In this incident, poachers set their traps to catch other animals, which live in the jungle. On a bad day, a set trap catches a passing by mountain gorilla leading to his/her death or serious injuries.
Other threats to mountain gorillas
Besides poaching, mountain gorillas are highly injured by several other threats, which include among others:
It’s unfortunate that gorilla habits have continued to be destroyed by locals. People living in the boundaries of mountain gorilla national parks encroach on gorilla lands to expand land for farming and settlement. The best example in this point is in Volcanoes National park, which lost over 54% of the total park and area to encroachment. Great thanks to African Wildlife Foundation which on 10th January 2018 donated 37 hectares of land for the expansion of Volcanoes National park.
A high number of mountain gorillas especially the infants has been lost to diseases. Also, the close relativeness of mountain gorillas to human beings sharing over 99% of human genes make them susceptible to human genes. One infected gorilla can lead to the loss of the entire gorilla family if no quick measures are taken. Mountain gorillas are susceptible to human communicable diseases like cough and flue. This is the reason why travelers are encouraged to keep seven meters away from the endangered gorillas to the spread of diseases. Also, travelers are advised to turn back their faces when sneezing to avoid the spread of germs to the endangered gorillas.
Also, mountain gorillas have been highly threatened by civil conflicts in gorilla national parks especially in Virunga Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This park is believed to be a hiding place for several rebel groups who hunt gorillas for meat and also killing tourists and park rangers. In 2018, Virunga national park was closed for 8 months due to the kidnap of tourists and killing of a park ranger. Thanks to tourism police in the Virunga region for its tireless effort to protect gorillas and tourists.
In general, mountain gorillas still face threats hindering their population increase. We encourage a joint hand of gorilla overs, conservationists and government bodies to fight and bring an end to threats hindering the survival of mountain gorillas for the future generation.
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