Why are Mountain Gorillas Called Endangered Species
Why are Mountain Gorillas Called Endangered Species?
As their name suggests, mountain gorillas live high in Africa’s mountain ranges particularly in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The mountain gorillas stay in elevation of 8,000 to 13,000 feet. Scientifically, they are known as Gorilla beringei beringei! Mountain gorillas are famously the powerful, large, intelligent, majestic, lovely and vulnerable Apes in the world and globally tracking them in the wild offers dramatic experiences to the tourists. If you have ever thought of comparing between humans and primates, then don’t miss the magical look at the rare mountain gorillas in their habitat and then check out for differences between the world’s largest primates and humans! Did you ever know that the mountain gorillas share about 98% of their DNA with humans? Have you ever thought about this incredible connection? Come and discover the special affinity that humans have with these remarkable wild primates. The majestic mountain gorillas are world’s popular primates out of all the endangered species and they are found in the thick tropical montane forests of Africa specifically in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda; Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in Congo. In the world records, the mountain gorillas are at the verge of extinction!
Mountain gorillas are acknowledged by IUCN as critically endangered species. Currently, there are about 900 mountain gorillas that are still surviving in the world and several factors explain why their lives are highly threatened. Out of the 900 mountain gorillas that still live in the world, Uganda is a home to about 480 individuals and the rest are shared by Rwanda and Congo. In spite of their endangerment status in the world, conservationists have recently registered good news especially on mountain gorillas given the established conservation and protection measures that have been employed to recover the population of mountain gorillas. Despite the conservation measures, mountain gorillas still remain the most threatened apes in the entire endangered wildlife list.
Below are reasons why the mountain gorillas are described as the endangered species.
Like other endangered wildlife, poaching continues to be the most threat to mountain gorillas. Since the 20th century, hunters and collectors from Europe and the United States (US) started killing and capturing mountain gorillas and after 25 years, about 50 mountain gorillas were captured as trophies. In addition, the impact of civil wars have also registered cases of wildlife poaching especially in the forested areas where mountain gorillas live for instance in Congo and Rwandan insurgency at a time. This kind of political unrest reduces on the remarkable conservation and protection work intended to protect wild mountain gorillas and their habitat and if this stays for long without any action, gorilla protection can easily disappear. Unfortunately, wild mountain gorillas live in destinations where civil wars are common and due to this, conservation work is hindered. Like any wild animal, mountain gorillas are killed by poachers for food or heads, feet and hands for souvenir work. Until recently, the Virunga Massif still stands as the most famous destination for poachers in African continent; given all the 200 poacher’s snares were recently discovered in the area. The wire snares may not be targeting the mountain gorillas but because they are set in gorilla habitat, they still remain the biggest threat to their lives.
Further still, mountain gorillas have lost the largest portion of their natural habitat to agriculture and settlement. Due to population pressure from the countries where the mountain gorillas live, gorilla habitat is however, the main priority for the adjacent local communities to create land for their agricultural activities. Every portion of land that is not conserved or under protection of any conservation authority is used for agricultural activities. Over 100,000 people live in the remote destinations where mountain gorillas are inhabited and there is high demand for land for them to cultivate, poles for building and burning charcoal which have caused gorilla habitat loss. Mountain gorillas in turn are forced out their natural habitats to isolated places and this makes it hard for the mountain gorillas to search for food. Let is come together and conserve gorilla habitat! Other threats include diseases. Mountain gorillas are susceptible to human diseases. The more mountain gorillas are exposed to human illnesses, the more their lives are risk of catching the same diseases which may claim their lives.
However, several conservation efforts have been put to remove mountain gorillas from the endangered list. Most importantly, countries where the mountain gorillas live have gazetted areas in order to conserve and protect mountain gorillas and their habitats. The above alarming negative factors needed long term solution and hence protected areas had to be established to offer refuge to these incredible primates as well as other wildlife species in the wild. In Uganda, there is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park; Rwanda established the Volcanoes National Park and DRC introduced the Virunga National Park. Today these parks are richly endowed with biodiversity! The respective conservation agencies have kept recruiting rangers and other security organs also collaborated to ensure protection of these impressive creatures.
Other responsible bodies like the IGCP have also collaborated to empower the citizens of Rwanda, Uganda and DRC in order to manage the network of trans-boundary protected areas that mountain gorillas depend on. In the Virunga National Park, International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) are working hand in hand with the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) and their impact has been on; environmental awareness and education initiatives, reforestation and promotion of sustainable livelihoods.
We must also credit Dian Fossey for her efforts on anti poaching measures on mountain gorillas at the Volcanoes National Park which in turn sold knowledge to other areas where these incredible animals live. Dian Fossey is American famous primatologist known in the world especially on movie “Gorillas in the Mist.” In 1963, Dian Fossey and her staff frequently conducted patrols in the forest and even removed wire snares set to capture antelopes and other wildlife species
Other conservation measures include tourism revenue sharing where part of the fees paid by tourists on visit to the park is given back to the communities. In Uganda the tourism revenue sharing takes 20% of park entry fees while Rwanda offers the local communities 10%. These initiatives are intended to make the local communities who have lived and still living around the protected areas to appreciate tourism which in turn will reduce human wildlife conflicts.
In conclusion, the mountain gorillas form one of the main reasons why many tourists visit the African continent and it is vital for respective governments and other stakeholders to ensure their survival on earth. Conservationists and environmentalists from various countries must continue establishing and implementing effective conservation measures. Your visit to any of the gorilla destinations is highly credited as it contributes towards the conservation of mountain gorillas and other species. Remember mountain gorillas don’t live in captivity!!