Why The Mountain Gorillas Are Endangered Species In The World
Have you ever imagined why mountain gorillas feature as the most critically endangered species in the world? With fewer than 1000 individuals that are left in the world today, the rare mountain gorillas are listed under IUCN Red book as the critically endangered Apes in the world and their survival on earth is at risk of extinction
They are scientifically known as gorilla beringei beringei, a subspec of Eastern gorilla which is only thriving within the jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park in South-western part of Uganda; the Virunga National Park in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the Volcanoes National Park in Northwestern Rwanda, the only destinations for mountain gorilla safaris in the world, and there are a million reasons why these rare apes are listed as the most critically endangered species on today and among many include the following;
- Habitat loss
Like most wildlife species that thrive on earth today, the mountain gorillas are also interfaced with habitat loss. Most of the areas where these unique creatures thrive are highly populated and their habitats are often deforested and replaced with agricultural farms, firewood, building materials as well as for human settlements.
The other factor is traditional medicine as most of the body parts of these endangered apes are highly used as charms by most of the traditional healers and this also has become a threat to their survival on earth.
However, many International and region organizations such as International Gorilla Conservation Program, Africa Wildlife Foundation, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, Friend a Gorilla, Uganda Wildlife Authority and many others are jointly protecting the gorilla habitat through a number of ways such as; sensitizing the local community about the value of gorillas to their community, relocating them from gorilla habitat and compensations for destroyed property by gorillas.
- Illegal hunting (poaching)
This is another severe threat to the survival of these rare apes. Since 1902, mountain gorillas have been hunted for various reasons including food up to date. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, most of the people poach these rare species mainly for their meat.
Others poach these Great apes for sport and not to leave out the illegal exotic pet trade poses another threat where babies are captured and sold. Whereas most of the traps are set to catch the small animals like antelopes, in the course of the day the mountain gorillas also get entangled in these wire snares.
However still, through the sensitization of the local communities about their benefits from gorilla tourism, illegal poaching is controlled in “some gorilla parks”. For example, we ex-poachers employed as Porters, and park rangers. Additionally, there is a percentage of the revenues rewarded to the local communities through infrastructures development such as rural electrification, provision of piped water, medical centers and scholastic materials among others. Through such measures, we have hope for a steady increase in the mountain gorilla population in Africa!
- Political unrest
Besides habitat loss and poaching, the country’s political insecurity also proves to be a severe threat. Civil wars come with diverse effects which include habitat loss and illegal hunting and all these make the lives of these rare apes hard while in their natural habitat.
- Oil and gas exploration
This also proves a severe threat to the thriving of these Great apes. The European oil and gas companies have been granted exploration concessions in the Virunga National Park where more than 200 individuals of these large primates thrive in the Democratic Congo Republic. Whereas the habitat isn’t within an oil concession, the development in the protected area could negatively inflict on the wildlife’s security. This is happening in other national parks in Uganda such as Murchison Falls where oil and gas exploration has affected a huge number of animals
- Human infectious diseases
Mountain gorillas share about 95% of their DNA with humans and this means that they are very susceptible to human infectious diseases. They already have severe disease effects to overcome and the further threat of human diseases especially flue and cold can cost their lives. The first time exposure to these diseases can cost their population in the habitat.
However, we have gorilla doctors in all parks to engage any disease outbreak in the gorilla community!
In conclusion, mountain gorillas have a slow reproduction rate and yet also they are most threatened apes in the world today. There is a need for collaborative effort to conserve these critically endangered primates on earth so as to help increase their number in the wild.
These endangered apes can be saved by selling out gorilla trekking permits to generate more money that can help to support environmental programs like conserving and protection of mountain gorillas, sensitizing the local communities about gorilla tourism, and provide alternative sources of income for local residents around the parks.