Why are Mountain Gorillas Poached? Poaching is one of the most serious and immediate threats to the existence of mountain gorillas in their natural habitats. In the persistent demand, some of their body parts are used for traditional medicine and folk remedies while in some areas used for pets. They are one of the animals facing extinction, getting worse in the 19th Century but with unwavering conservation priorities in fighting the unquenchable demand for mountain gorilla parts, their numbers are gradually increasing and since 2018 were classified as “endangered” instead of “critically endangered. They are only trekked within Uganda in Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park, Rwanda in Volcanoes National Park and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the Virunga National Park. There are about 1,063 individuals in the world today in the 3 mentioned countries. However, even with their small population, they are poached for a number of reasons that include;
Mountain gorillas have in many occasions been poached accidentally, owing to the fact that they get trapped in wire snares placed for other animals, especially antelopes hence getting badly injured and sometimes leading to death. This has undeniably been one of the reasons for mountain gorillas getting hunted, because their natural habitats also shelter other animals which are of great interest to poachers.
Another reason why mountain gorillas are poached is for medicinal purposes whereby some of their body parts as and bones are in high demand for traditional African remedies, charm and magic. For this reason, their population in the wild is threatened. Their feet, heads and hands are normally sold to collectors of traditional medicines.
The growing demand for bush meat and its trade is another reason why these endangered Great Apes are poached, because some rich folks relish mountain gorilla meat and find it prestigious eating it. Similarly, high poverty rates around mountain gorilla habitats have pushed indigenous communities across their range into hunting for these unique creatures for food. Similarly, they are poached for the trade of bush meat as the wealthy elites are willing to pay any amount to have and consume gorilla meat. For most Gorilla Parks, this factor alone has led to the sharp decline in the population numbers of these already endangered Giant Apes.
Another reason for poaching mountain gorillas is the desire for using them as pets among the wealthy elite who own illegal private zoos or animal Sanctuaries. For this reason, locals are willing to risk their lives to hunt for the Great Apes, and sell them abroad.
Lack of awareness in some places
Mountain gorillas have been victims of people’s ignorance in some areas, where there is insufficient awareness about the value of conserving them. Some communities won’t just understand why mountain gorillas and their natural habitats should be protected at the expense of them using the land for agriculture, coupled by the non-compliance to rules and regulations for these endangered creatures thus contributing to their reckless killing.
Besides poaching, the endangered mountain gorillas also face other countless challenges that range from habitat loss and degradation where their dense forests are losing cover because of logging, timber harvesting while other areas are being converted into farmlands, diseases (owing to the fact that they are closely related to humans and so much more.
Mountain gorillas like other wildlife species play a vital role in their natural environment because without them, there would be large-scale grazing hence depletion in vegetation. This will greatly lead to disruption in the natural balance within the food chain. Additionally, protecting mountain gorillas also means protecting other crucial plants, insects and wildlife species as well as maintaining an untouched ecosystem which in turn limits disease spillovers from animals to human beings such as Ebola.