WHY ARE MOUNTAIN GORILLAS POACHED?
Mountain gorillas are one of the most endangered ape species in the world and poaching is listed among the top threats to these mighty giants of the jungle.
Mountain gorillas are only found in the Virunga chained volcanoes shared by three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga national park are the prime gorilla homes in Uganda, Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in DR Congo.
The endangered gorillas have suffered a devastating attack from the illegal hunting of the poachers, which has grown to become one of the major threats to these forest apes. Poached for different purposes, the number of the gorillas was continuously reducing until strict gorilla conservation strategies were implemented.
Though, still despite the fact that there are conservation measures, several gorillas are poached and it still stands out especially in in Virunga national park in DR Congo. For Uganda and Rwanda have set up strict conservation efforts and have now started seeing an increase in the number of these endangered apes.
Source of food. Most hunters illegally kill the gorillas for meat, gorilla’s meat is a source of food to them as well as their families. Local people living close to the gorilla homes especially Virunga national park have continuously killed and hunted the endangered apes for food.
Other poachers kill the gorillas for bush meat trade. Gorillas being very rare, even their meat is very expensive, so poachers earn pretty a lot of money from the gorillas’ meat. In fact in some countries, it is considered prestigious to eat the ape meat, only wealthy families can afford.
Basing on some traditional beliefs, some body parts of the gorillas are used as medicine and some medical charm. Several gorilla have been killed for their heads, arms or feet, just to be sold to people who want to keep them for private collections. Also witchcraft has a big hand in the frequent killings of the mountain gorillas.
At times, gorilla have also been killed by people looking for fame and prestige. The endangered apes being very strong apes, only the brave ones can manage to kill them. Sometimes poachers kill the mountain apes just to prove their worth. Other times, some parts of the gorillas are used as trophies in sports, music, dance and drama competitions.
Young gorillas are abducted for illegal selling to the zoos or researchers. Remember you cannot take an infant gorilla from the parent, it would fight o death to protect their young ones. So poachers end up first killing the adult gorillas in order to take the infants.
Besides poaching, also the loss of their habitats, wars and civil unrests, diseases, natural catastrophes are also other threats to the endangered mountain gorillas of the African forests.
Remember gorillas also have a low reproductive rate that even the slowest and simplest forms of killings of the mountain gorillas can also reverse the generations.
Most poachers usually use traps and snares made for forest animals like antelopes, elephants and others to also kill the gorillas.