Gorillas are the largest primates on planet earth. These creatures look to be very aggressive, yet are actually just shy and peaceful.
They are also at the verge of becoming extinct. Currently there are less than 900 mountain gorillas that are left in the whole world.
Recently, the International Union for Conservation of Nature added the Eastern Lowland Gorillas of Congo (also known as Grauer's Gorilla) on the list of Critically Endangered Species. If conservation efforts are not geared up, our children may not live to see the endangered gorillas given their dwindling numbers!
Many people wonder about the reasons as to why there is a reduced number of gorillas left in the world. However the main trouble behind the reducing numbers is surprisingly man! There is nothing else to blame! Here are some of the most important factors that have greatly led to the reducing gorilla populations in Africa.
Reasons Behind the Reducing Gorilla Population in Africa
1. Bush Meat Crisis
One of the factors that is still greatly affecting the gorilla population in central Africa is bush meat. Many locals hunt these great apes for meat. The bush meat crisis has evolved from ancient ages to modern day times. It can be referred to as the meat from wild animals for food and commercial bush meat trade. There is both large and small scale hunting of wild animals for bush meat taking place in Central Africa including DR Congo, Congo Brazaville, Cameroon, Nigeria and more. Even in cases where locals hunt other wild animals, they normally kill gorillas because they stand in their way to getting bush meat.
Some areas where gorillas are found are rich in minerals. In the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the catastrophic decline of the Eastern gorillas has been blamed on mining. The DRC’s reserves are rich with minerals such as gold and coltan, an essential ingredient in the manufacture of mobile phones. These minerals, that are highly demanded, have greatly led to dwindiling gorilla numbers given the increasing number of artisan mining sites. In addition, the locals who participate in mining also rely on the forest for food.
3. Civil Wars
In Eastern Congo, scientists have reported that the numbers of eastern gorillas in the wild have dwindled three quarters in 20 years, to just 3,800 from 17,000. This is largely blamed on the instabilities that have been persistent in Congo. Gorillas have been caught in crossfire between different armed groups. Different armed millitias have been controlling different parts and one time there was a scenario where gorilla trekking in the Virunga National Park was controlled by the rebels.
Since the 1990s, the Eastern part of Congo has experienced regional insecurity that led to an increasing number of refugees who entered the region. There has also been the formation of armed groups who fought for domination of Congo's rich natural resources. These conflicts have been blamed for large-scale deforestation and poaching.
4. Conservation Efforts
In areas where conservation efforts have been geared up, there has been sucess in protecting the gorillas. An example is Uganda and Rwanda where all the gorillas are protected in gazetted national parks. In many countries where lowland gorillas exist, it has been reported that many gorilla ranges are still unprotected. This leaves the gorillas at the mercy of the humans who exploit the forest for a living.