The Endangered Gorillas
The endangered Gorillas are of the key attractions in the world for travelers and they enjoy trekking these primates to see the animals which share Human DNA up to 99%. Gorillas are the most endangered animal species in the whole world. There are two gorilla subspecies including the mountain gorillas and the lowland gorillas. The lowland gorillas are also sub-divided into the western lowland gorillas and the Eastern lowland gorillas, they are the same, however, and their location makes the difference. The western lowland gorillas are the highest in population with a total of about 100,000 gorillas then followed by the Eastern lowland gorillas with a population of about 5,000 gorillas in the wild. This is different from the mountain gorillas because they have the least population.
The mountain gorillas are the most endangered gorilla species because a study was made and in the whole world, there are about 880 mountain gorilla species. Half of these mountain gorillas are in Bwindi Impenetrable national park and the rest of the half remaining mountain gorillas are found in the Virunga Mountains. The mountain gorillas can only be found in two regions of Africa including Bwindi Impenetrable national park in Uganda and Virunga conversation area that is Volcanoes national park in the north-west of Rwanda, Virunga national park in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla national park in the south-west of Uganda.
Mountain gorillas are endangered because of the threats they encounter in the areas they are found. They are faced with a lot of threats that affect their well-being and habitat. Some of the threats gorillas’ encounter that has made them endangered including the following;
Disease; Mountain gorillas are closely correlated to humans, this puts them at risk of catching human diseases most especially airborne diseases like cough, flu, and cold. Any exposure to an illness contracted from human beings will affect the whole gorilla family since gorillas live in families of up to 40 members so any disease outbreak will spread out and passed on from one gorilla to another. With the already existing diseases that gorillas suffer from, visitors stand a further threat to endanger the gorillas. Therefore, to minimize the risks of endangering the mountain gorillas, the responsible bodies like the Uganda Wildlife Authority has set rules that must be followed by visitors before and when you are with the gorillas. Some of these rules include; Do not visit the gorillas if you have any infectious disease, trekking a gorilla family is only limited to 8 people, maintain a distance of 7 meters away from the gorillas, smoking, eating and drinking are not permitted in the presence of gorillas, if you sneeze, cover your face and turn away from the gorillas, and lastly the time spent in the presence of the gorillas is limited to only one hour per gorilla family per day.
Habitat loss; The Mountain gorillas are live in cool and moist climatic areas of Bwindi Impenetrable national park and in the Virunga Mountains. They are mainly herbivores that feed mainly on a vegetarian diet, bamboo shoots and stems of tree species, some of the plants that they feed on include; thistle, wild celery and nestle to mention a few. Given the growth of the human population, there is human encroachment of these rain forests where gorillas live for the need for land for agricultural development and livestock keeping and also clearing of the forest for settlement hence leading to deforestation. With this like of factor, mountain gorillas are highly endangered as most of them will be killed by humans. This has been evidenced in the Democratic Republic of Congo where the local people have invaded and settled illegally the Virunga forests for settlement and cutting of the trees for human consumption clearing about 3,700 acres of the forest, thus reducing the Mountain gorilla population.
Poaching; after the discovery of gorillas two decades ago, several people including American and European scientists, and local hunters killed over 50 mountain gorilla. Apart from gorillas, there are other wild animals such as the forest antelopes, bush pigs, and other wildlife that poachers lookout for to hurt and unfortunately, gorillas are trapped on the wire snares and in the process of removing the wire snare, a gorilla may lose a body part or even bleed to death. In cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the local people have a belief that killing a gorilla will earn them a lot of money from researchers and that killing a gorilla can be used to practice witchcraft hence this continuously threatens the survival and habitat of the gorillas. Parching was very rampant in the early 19s, and a good number of gorillas were lost especially in the Virunga mountains.
How to save the endangered mountain gorillas
The places where gorillas inhabit have been gazetted from human encroachment and settlement in the Virunga Mountains and Bwindi Impenetrable national park. Gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi Impenetrable national park has greatly supported the survival of the mountain gorillas through the sale of the mountain gorillas permits which allow visitors to see the creatures. This has provided income for environmental initiatives like protection and conservation of gorillas and also a source of income to the local community as a percentage of the collected income is given to the community. This significant amount is invested in community development projects.