Currently, less than nine hundred (900) endangered mountain gorillas are left in the whole world.
Though gorillas stand as one of the world’s strongest and mightiest creatures, they are vulnerable to poaching just like any other form of wildlife.
They have become so vulnerable despite ongoing attempts to protect them that protections have been stepped up further by the government, regional bodies and Non Governmental Organisations just Gorilla Doctors, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and others.
Where Mountain Gorillas are Found
Though their numbers are reported to be increasing, challenges that can continuously reduce the number of these great apes still exist. This, therefore, calls for a deeper look into gorilla poaching, an activity that currently destroys these breathtakingly wonderful animals that are only found in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.
Mountain Gorilla Populations
The endangered mountain gorilla population could be in for a boost and a census has been set to reveal that many are left in the Virunga massif which is an area that spans Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Today, less the 500 mountain gorillas appear to be left in the Virunga Massif according to the recent survey however the conservation efforts are taking effect because their population was estimated at 480 after a census in 2010 and a second population of around 400 mountain gorillas live in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable national park.
Conservation of Mountain Gorillas
Gorilla tourism has tried to improve the conservation of the mountain gorillas. A good number of travelers have taken gorilla tours to the Virunga Region notably the Volcanoes National Park. The earnings from gorilla tourism have been used by the governments to protect the habitat for these great apes. Local communities have been educated about the importance of protecting the mountain gorillas and many have changed their attitudes towards conservation. However a lot is still needed to improve the standards of living of the local communities that live adjacent to these parks. The local communities need to realize more benefits so that they can help a lot in stopping poaching within the forests that protect the mountain gorillas.
Exploitation of Mountain Gorillas
It should be noted that safeguarding the gorillas’ survival is very essential though the exploitation of the land for agriculture and the timber trade has devastated the habitat, while new roads built for timber trucks have made it easier for poachers to reach the gorillas.
Patrols have been organized between each of the three countries and meet to exchange information about the endangered mountain gorillas however another threat looming in Virunga national park in the DRC is the threat of oil exploitation. Today the park is a UNESCO world heritage site, but, if the Congolese government goes ahead with oil plans, the park could lose its status. There will be an impact on gorillas because more than seventy (70%) of the park will be affected.
Virunga National Park is also still faced with problems concerning security in the area.
In early march, two rangers were killed in the Virunga when militia groups who have made eastern Democratic Republic of Congo a volatile place attacked the park. These rangers were guarding Virunga, one of the world's last sanctuaries for the endangered mountain gorilla. The reports indicated that the third ranger was still missing after the attacks. These terrible incidents are happening in Africa's oldest national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site.