Why We Should Stop Poaching Of Gorillas

Why We Should Stop Poaching Of Gorillas: For so long poaching of gorillas has posed a great threat to the existence of these species. Gorillas play such an important to both our society and the environment in general, and that is why it is highly crucial that we protect these primate species from extinction.

Why We Should Stop Poaching Of Gorillas

Poaching of gorillas has increasingly been reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to their high demand for bushmeat. Of course, this does not exclude the fact that gorillas are being killed in other countries like Uganda and Rwanda; and for various reasons which we shall later discuss.

What is poaching?

Poaching is the illegal killing of wildlife animals in conservation areas such as national parks and game reserves. Poaching of gorillas is the illegal procurement of gorillas or their body parts. Originally, poaching was mainly done by the poor as a means to meet their day-to-day needs, and also as a way to supplement their diets.

Why are gorillas poached? 

Poaching of gorillas in Africa has been going on for more than a decade, with the highest rates of gorilla poaching being in the late 1990s. Gorillas play a crucial role in local biodiversity, roaming through large territories and help in pollination, for example, they spread the seeds of fruits they consume. It is so unfortunate that gorillas are still being poached to this day.

Gorillas in Africa are being poached for a number of reasons which include;

  • Poverty.

Poverty is one of the major reasons as to why poaching of gorillas in Africa. Gorilla poachers are in a hurry to earn quick money and make ends meet for their families. The main causes of poverty in Africa include; lack of employment opportunities and limited potential for agriculture and livestock production. Poachers usually tend to rely on natural resources and have easy access to protected areas where these gorillas live, and hence use the chance to hunt down gorillas and generate cash income through the sale of bush-meat.

  • Bush-meat.

Gorillas are poached for their bush-meat which is on high demand both domestically and in the international market. This is very common in Western and Central African countries were gorilla/ bush meat is on high demand. Poaching of gorillas for bush meat is especially common in the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the traditional culture, consumption of bush meat is a sign of wealth, thus the increase in poaching of gorillas.

  • Cultural demand for wildlife products 

 In this case, gorilla body parts such as hands, nails, and head which are used in ritual practices. There are some cultures in Africa that still clam to have a traditional right to hunt gorillas. According to these cultures, hunting down a gorilla is one of the traditional practices done to pass down rites from their ancestors. 

Gorillas are poached for tradition medicine and live animal trade. This is a cultural practice that is most common in West African countries, where gorilla body parts are used in making traditional medicine and magical charms.

  • Hunting trophy.

Gorillas are also sought after as pets and hunting trophies thus leading to an increase in gorilla poaching on the African continent.

The fight against poaching of gorillas in Africa is so surreal and many park rangers have unfortunately lost their lives in the process of capturing poachers. In Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, over 175 park rangers have been killed in the fight against poaching since 1996.

What is being done to stop poaching of gorillas?

Along with several wildlife conservation agencies like WWF, Gorilla Fund, and the Dian Fossey Foundation among others, authorities in national parks like Virunga National Park, RDB (Rwanda Development Board) and the UWA (Uganda Wildlife Authority)    have teamed up with their respective local governments to set and effect anti-poaching laws.

These laws are meant to deter locals from poaching not only gorillas, but also other wildlife animals living within the national parks. Poaching is punishable by law with convicted poachers facing maximum prison sentence and some evening facing the death sentence or life imprisonment.

In order to fight poaching of gorillas, local governments are sensitizing the general public on the important role that gorillas play in the society, especially when it comes to the tourism industry. In countries like Uganda and Rwanda, 30% of the revenue earned from gorilla trekking permits is distributed amongst members of the local communities that live near the national parks.

Both local governments and international conservation agencies are pushing for stop to illegal trade of gorilla and other wildlife products especially in Asian countries like China. This is being done by introducing even tougher penalties for countries that aid and abet poaching and illegal animal trade.

Local wildlife conservational agencies and governments are employing more people from the local communities as park guides and rangers to help fight poaching of gorillas and other wildlife animals living within the national parks. In Virunga National Park alone, 730 rangers have been employed and trained by the national park; and of these 730 ranges, 27 are female rangers thus making it the only national park in the world with majority of female rangers.

What you can do to stop poaching of gorillas.

You can play a huge role in stopping the continuous poaching of gorillas in Africa;

Adopt a Gorilla.

Through gorilla conservation projects such as adopt a gorilla; you can adopt a gorilla for a certain amount donated to gorilla parks or gorilla conservation agencies like Friend a gorilla and Dian Fossey Foundation among others. Although you don’t get to take the gorilla back home with you, your donation is directed towards the feeding and treatment of the gorilla. Part of the donation funds are also used to pay wages and salaries of park rangers and gorilla doctors who look after the gorillas.

Take a gorilla Trekking Safari.

Taking a gorilla trekking safari to Uganda, Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of Congo will give you the opportunity to learn more about gorillas and why they should be protected/conserved for generations to come. Also part of the money collected from your gorilla trekking fees covers the payment of wages to park rangers, guides and gorilla doctors.

Other factors threatening the survival gorillas in Africa.

There are other factors threatening the survival of gorillas in Africa and these include; habitat loss due to large-scale deforestation and land encroachment, zoonotic diseases like Ebola, and low birth rate among others.

Where can one see gorillas in the wild?

Gorillas are endemic to the African continent; therefore if you wish to see gorillas in their natural habitats, it’s best you embark on a gorilla trekking safari to Bwindi Impenetrable national park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in Congo. If you still wish to see Western lowland and Eastern lowland gorillas, you can go to Kahuzi-Biega National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

How much is a gorilla trekking permit?

Gorilla trekking permits in DR Congo cost USD 400 dollars per person and USD 700 and USD 600 dollars in Uganda. However if you wish to do gorilla trekking in Rwanda, you will have to book a gorilla permit at a fee of USD 1500 dollars. You will need to present a copy of your valid passport when booking a gorilla trekking permit. Please note that your passport must be at least 6 months valid.

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