WHY ARE MOUNTAIN GORILLAS SO ENDANGERED?
Mountain gorillas were still considered fearsome dangerous creatures. Not until Dian Fossey’s obsession with the greatest of the great apes created an impact to the whole world that changed the perception about the gentle giants of the jungle.
It was from then that gorilla trekking and habituation became one of the most famous tourism trends that no traveler would ever want to miss. There are only four mountain gorilla destinations in Africa, with Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park in Uganda as the prime gorilla home. Other gorillas can still be trekked in Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park, Virunga national park in the Democratic republic of Congo as well as Mgahinga national park, still in Uganda.
Unfortunately, mountain gorillas are one of the most endangered wild creatures, despite them having a few natural predators. The fact that they are really strong formidable apes, they are one of the most feared animals on earth.
However, mountain gorillas are easy going vegetarians, living a peaceful and playful life in the jungles. The gorillas being so fragile, the detrimental human activities and other threats that are harmful to their wellbeing and habitats have continuously made them so endangered.
We cannot deny the fact that habitat loss is one of the major threats to the endangered mountain gorillas. The mighty apes live in the Virunga ranges, feeding on plants and some tree species like the bamboo, if not its natural habitat, a mountain gorilla cannot survive, not even in a zoo. The solid encroachment of man on the tropical forests for agriculture and settlements has left many gorilla homeless, which has lowered the reproduction process because of the insecurity they feel.
Diseases. This is another great threat to the mountain gorillas. Being closely related to people, these apes are so susceptible to human diseases. And the increasing number of tourists visiting them exposes them to further threats of infecting the gorillas with illnesses like flu, diarrhea, and cough. This is the very reason why sick tourists are not allowed to trek the apes, so as not to infect them.
Poaching. Over fifty mountain gorillas were killed in the first two decades after their discovery. European and American scientists, traditional herbalists and trophy hunters poached may gorillas which continuously threatened their survival and habitat. Some poachers also kill the gorillas for animal trade, herbal medicine and bush meat. And gorillas being rare, their meat is expensive at the market.
Civil wars and instability. This is especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo around Virunga national park. Since the 1990s, several civil unrests and the armed militias kill several gorillas and game rangers that makes the survey and conservation work difficult in the protected areas. Currently they are even rebel held territories that gorilla trekking in Virunga national park is currently on hold until further notice.
Yes, even though the mountain gorillas are few in number, yet one of the most selling tourism attractions in Africa. Gorilla trekking has done a great job in the conservation of these mighty apes as well as their natural habitats. Currently mountain gorillas are only left in the protected areas and lately they shifted from the critically endangered zone to just endangered gorillas. A real achievement of the several conservation efforts to sustain the endangered apes.
It is important to note that Gorilla trekking can surely save the endangered apes of Africa.