The Endangered Mountain Gorillas
The Endangered Mountain Gorillas are amazing primates species that exist only in East and Central Africa in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo DRC. The question about the existence of the mountain gorillas might not be some easy nut to crack, mainly because there are more than one gorilla species that people tend to mix up. However, this article is going to put light to the mountain gorilla; the one kind which is rare and stays only in highland areas of Africa, and other parts of the world. The mountain gorilla are the largest primates species in the world, however, the size of the mountain gorillas has been sometimes exaggerated like in movies such as King Kong and Tarzan among others. Therefore, the only way to see the real-life of the mountain gorilla in their natural setting, it is by joining on the gorilla trekking safari to East Africa.
Uganda is blessed with the biggest population of the mountain gorillas, which stay in bwindi impenetrable national park. The mountain gorillas are the largest members of the primate family. The mountain gorillas also share about 98% of the human DNA. Despite the heavy size of the mountain gorillas, the mountain gorillas live on the land and in big tree branches that can support their weight in the air. The mountain gorillas are mainly inhabitants of a unique environment of tropical rainforest within the highland areas of central and east Africa, in countries like; Uganda, Rwanda and the democratic republic of Congo.
Bwindi impenetrable national park holds about ¼ of the world’s population of the mountain gorilla. Another big community of mountain gorillas is found in Virunga national park and Mgahinga national park, plus volcanoes national park; all these national parks have been designated as a protectorate for the mountain gorilla by the world conservation organ, called the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as the virunga conservation area.
On the contrary, the other subspecies of the low land gorillas are still in a large population compared to the mountain gorilla. However, the mountain gorillas stay the highlight of the primate safaris in Africa. Despite, comparing the population of the gorillas in about 20 years back and currently, there is a great depletion in all the four species of the gorilla, and it has been a great decrease in the recent years basing on the different updates from different international conservation organizations.
Factors that have contributed to the “endangered” status of the mountain gorillas in the world
There are several reasons as to why the mountain gorillas are endangered animal species in the world. Some of the reasons are naturally caused by sickness, old age among others. However, we cannot draw a bottom line that the rapid depletion of the mountain gorillas is naturally caused. Actually is we can turn the tables around, we can get the clear picture that all the factors contributing to the “endangered” status, of the mountain gorillas, are induced by human intervention or interference with the wild community of the jungle inhabitants. The following are some of the factors in a broader picture below;
Diseases: The fact that the mountain gorillas are very close to the human, with about 98% of the human DNA, makes them vulnerable to, also, human diseases. Besides, the mountain gorillas also attract diseases for other animals just like any other living organism; however, these are jungle diseases that cannot be the reason for the great depletion in the mountain gorilla population of the world. With already the existence of the jungle diseases, the humans that visit the mountain gorillas, for trekking activities and mountain gorilla habituation processes, pose a great fear to the existence of the mountain gorillas. Many mountain gorillas catch the disease of visitors like cough and flu.
The first mountain gorillas to catch a cold can easily spread it to the whole family. However, they are sometimes they are not able to get treated like humans. Therefore, the mountain gorillas keep on dying a miserable vulnerable death due to visitor interference in their natural setting.
Loss of habitat: The habitats for the mountain gorillas are unique and found in the highland areas of Africa like the virunga mountain ranges. It would be easy to ask how the habitats of the mountain gorillas are a loss, but they are lost through human encroachment cool and moist tropical rainforests, in the mountain areas of a virunga, for agriculture and settlement. This is mainly caused due to the growing population of humans and the lucrative tourism businesses around the protected areas where mountain gorilla trekking is conducted.
For example, there are many human settlements that are being formed around bwindi impenetrable national park, in the south western region of Uganda. Also, large chunks of land around the Virunga national park have been illegally settled in by the war victims of the democratic republic of Congo, plus a lot of charcoal burning is rampant with in the Congo forests and the volcanoes national park. All these activities have led to massive deforestation and destruction of mountain gorilla habitats. When the land is cleared, the entire bush on which the mountain gorillas feed plus the bamboo is cut for construction of the human settlement, living the poor mountain gorillas with no other choice but to shift away.
Poaching: Poaching is not some new term on the scene of the conservation of nature. Many years ago, when the mountain gorillas had been just found or discovered, wealthy European administrators in colonial Africa then, used to hunt the mountain gorillas for trophies. Literature has a record of about 60 mountain gorillas being killed within 10 years. Despite the damage caused by the European colonial masters, the poaching of wild animals has just been increased and still goes on by the mindless humans with selfish interests.
Poaching is, actually, one of the factors that have greatly threatened the existence of the mountain gorillas in Africa and the world at large. Perhaps, the poachers never intend to kill mountain gorillas, but the wire snares and traps they use to catch antelopes, end up killing the mountain gorillas slowly by slowly. Despite the intention of some poachers, others really intends to catch the mountain gorillas and sell them to smugglers as pets. Others are killed and eaten as meat by some primitive African tribes mainly in the democratic republic of Congo, among other reasons.
Those are the major reasons as to why mountain gorillas are endangered and included on the read list of the international union for conservation of nature’s (IUCN) red list of animals with threatened existence. Despite, there is some good news that mountain gorillas can be saved now for the future generation.
What is being done to curb the factors which pose a threat to the existence of the mountain gorillas in the world?
A number of 5 international wildlife conservation organizations are strengthening the fight against habitat loss in Africa such as virunga national park in the democratic republic of Congo, Bwindi impenetrable park in Uganda, and Volcanoes national park in Rwanda. For example, the world wildlife fund has introduced initiatives to teach the communities near the habitats of mountain gorillas, how to live in harmony without encroaching on the parks’ land.
The poaching of the mountain gorillas for bush meat and pet trade has been curbed by providing other proteins for the people of the democratic republic of Congo. Also strict laws and penalties have been deployed plus patrol rangers to safe guard the different mountain gorilla families in bwindi impenetrable park, from poachers.
The other way to reduce the fast rate depletion of the mountain gorillas is; getting the people living near the national parks involved in the conservation of wildlife. This can easily be done by sharing the benefits of tourism with all the national park stake holders like the bakiga around bwindi impenetrable national park, and the batwa people.
How can you get involved in the conservation of mountain gorillas?
The most definite way for you to join in towards the conservation of mountain gorillas in the jungles of Africa, is by buying the mountain gorilla permits. The mountain gorilla trekking permits are legal documents that allow you to join the group to visit a certain family of mountain gorillas. Different national parks or countries charge mountain gorilla trekking permits differently basing on varying reasons.
The Bwindi mountain gorilla permit is sold at only USD 700; this money allows you to trek and also spend a one hour time with the mountain gorilla family. Volcanoes national park charges USD1500 for the mountain gorilla trekking for one of its 8 habituated gorilla families. And lastly, Congo charges USD450 for mountain gorilla trekking in virunga national park.
A certain percentage of the money collected after the sale of mountain gorillas is shared with the communities around the habitats of mountain gorillas. The other percentage is used to pay the rangers and also funding the other mountain gorilla conservation projects. Therefore, you can visit bwindi impenetrable national park any time and enjoy trekking one of the 35 mountain gorilla families within a natural setting, in other words, trek a gorilla and support the conservation of mountain gorillas in Africa.