Why are Mountain Gorillas Endangered?
When it comes to mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei), the word endangered is usually connected due to their status. Though mountain gorillas have steadily been increasing in number, the population is still threatened with extinction. Before conservation efforts were strongly pioneered by Dian Fossey, an American primatologist, mountain gorillas had been subjected to decades of uncontrolled hunting, disease, habitat loss and ravages of human conflict. Due to these unfortunate happenings, the mountain gorilla numbers depleted rapidly to an extent where they were declared as critically endangered in the IUCN Red List. Thanks to the strong conservation efforts from the three countries that mountain gorillas inhabit which are Uganda, Rwanda and Congo and conservation partners the population has steadily been increasing which saw the population categorized as endangered.
Moving the mountain gorilla population from critically endangered to endangered is a step towards success as this means they are progressing away from being at the blink of extinction. Though the mountain gorillas are categorized as endangered, they still at a risk of being wiped out by anything that threatens their well-being.
The mountain gorilla population is found in four national parks of the three countries namely, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park. The entire population of the gorillas in these habitats is just enough for them to be under the category endangered which shows that the numbers are very low in each of these parks.
How many mountain gorillas are left?
Just like the human population with disparities every day following births and deaths, there isn’t an actual number of the mountain gorillas remaining in the wild however, according to the last census there is an estimate of 1,069 gorillas, exceeding 1000 individuals for the first time. This is a great conservation story as the mountain gorillas are increasing and therefore positively impacting more on the surrounding communities as well as the eco system.
According to the census carried out by the Greater Virunga Trans boundary Collaboration- a coalition of governments, non-profits and conservationists in 2018 showed that the population of mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Sarambwe Nature Reserve in Congo is at 459 gorillas up from 400 in 2011. From the 459, 196 mountain gorillas are in groups and the others are sole individuals. The reproduction rate among mountain gorillas is very low and that’s why their numbers do not multiply at a very fast rate. A female adult has a single birth in about 3-4 years and there’s also a high chance of infant mortality.
How are Mountain Gorillas being protected?
With the threats posed to the existence of mountain gorillas in the Bwindi forest and Virunga massif, gross efforts have been undertaken to ensure their protection. Governments have ensured tight security in all of the national parks in order to control any incidences of poaching.
The presence of mountain gorillas has also been utilized for positive outcomes and therefore the introduction of gorilla tours. These trekking trips to see the mountain gorillas are highly monitored with strong regulations in order to ensure that they are not creating negative impacts to the gorillas. The proceeds from gorilla tourism has helped to provide facilities for security and continued conservation efforts that have seen the remaining population of mountain gorillas protected and as well increasing.
The mountain gorilla population is endangered and some conservationists have always wondered whether trekking safaris are positive to their wellbeing. However, with the past decades where the population has been seen increase amidst the trekking activities it can strongly be agreed that with strong regulations, gorilla trekking has helped protect the gorillas. The possibility of the mountain gorilla population to move to a better status is dependent on the conservation efforts. Be part of the conservation of these gentle giants by planning a Uganda gorilla safari, Rwanda gorilla tour or gorilla trekking safari in Congo during a safari in Africa.