Known as the gentle giant, the Mountain Gorilla is the world’s most fascinating ape to watch.
These gentle giants are found in small portions on gazetted green volcanic slopes in Southwestern Uganda, Northwestern Rwanda and the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
The gazetted volcanic slopes are largely covered with tropical rain forests. These forests are a habitat to so many species that are unique to them only, among them being the Mountain Gorilla.
There are also several species of birds, primates, large mammals, reptiles, insects, plants and shrubs that are unique to these forests.
The Mountain Gorillas are distributed in four-game parks in the three countries, that is, Mgahinga National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda, Virunga Volcano Range in Democratic Republic of Congo and Park des Volcanoes in Rwanda.
The last population census estimated the existing Mountain Gorilla population at 1063 individuals. This is according to the World Wildlife Fund.
In spite of several conservation efforts by authorities and several organizations, the Mountain Gorilla still faces several threats to their existence.
The biggest threat is habitat loss.
Forests are cleared on a daily basis to meet man’s growing needs, to build structures and do farming for food.
While authorities have put in a lot of efforts to protect these habitats, humans have made this harder and, in the past, have gone to the extent of setting these forests ablaze to show their resentment.
The Mountain Gorillas are also threatened by poachers who are constantly hunting them down for a number of reasons.
These reasons include killing for prestige while others are sold abroad to be displayed in zoos while others are used as a specimen in scientific research in laboratories.
The insurgencies in the region have also seen a number of gorillas killed or displaced from their natural habitats.
As one of the moves to conserve these endangered apes, the wildlife authorities in the three countries opened up the parks for tour activities especially gorilla tracking.
Some of the revenue generated is then used to benefit the local communities around the parks.
The locals used to see these gorillas and the reservation of these game parks as a threat. This is because they thought they were losing the land they had settled on for generations.
After a period of time, their fears come to reality,
The reservation of these game packs meant they could no longer access the forests which were a source of their livelihood and on several occasions set the forests on fire and hunted the gorillas down and killed them as a way of resenting the whole idea of reserving forests for gorilla conservation.
However, the government of Uganda resettled these people back into the forest reserves after they failed to cope with the modern standards.
When the locals saw direct benefits from the gorillas as per the sensitization from the Government, their attitude and actions towards the gorillas changed.
In addition, when you purchase a gorilla permit, you are not only contributing to the betterment of the locals but you also indirectly helping conserve these great apes.
Humans can still endanger these shy giants during gorilla tracking in some ways. The wildlife authorities have now come up with a list of rules to follow during gorilla tracking as another measure to preserve these gorillas.
For instance, gorillas are susceptible to human illness, so no gorilla tracker is allowed to track when ill, this is because they share a large percentage of their DNA with humans.
Humans are also required to keep at least seven meters from the gorillas.
With all that said, the conservation of these gorillas remains a priority. It would be interesting to have you contribute to the betterment and increase of these gorillas.