why are gorillas poached?

why are gorillas poached?  Gorillas are very interesting primates, intelligent and curious. Gorillas are very important lifelines to the tourism industry in Africa. They are some of the most powerful and striking animals on the planet, and are also known for their gentle human like behaviors. However, it is sad to see that these endangered species are still being poached by unscrupulous people in a race to make quick money by selling the body parts of gorillas and for their bush meat as well. In this article, we clearly look at some of the reasons as to why gorillas are poached and what precautions are being taken to cab on the high rate of gorilla poaching.

Why are gorillas poached? Gorilla poaching in Africa has been going on for more than a decade, with the highest rates of gorilla poaching being in the late 1990s. Mountain 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, in Africa.

By definition, poaching of animals is the illegal hunting or capturing of wild animals, such as gorillas, and usually associated with land use rights. 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?
why are gorillas poached?

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

  • Poachers in Africa are poaching gorillas in order to earn quick money and make ends meet. 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 West 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 and 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 in Africa 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 a 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 alone, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, over 175 park rangers have been killed in the fight against poaching since 1996.

What measures are being taken to cab/ reduce on the rate of gorilla poaching?

Along with several wildlife conservation agencies like WWF, Gorilla Fund, and the Dian Fossey Foundation among others, national park authorities like Virunga National Park, Rwanda Development Board [RDB] and the Uganda Wildlife Authority[UWA] 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.

Other threats affect 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. Visitors who want to see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat can do so in Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. If you still wish to see Western lowland and Eastern lowland gorillas, you can go to Kahuzi-Biega National Park in Congo.

How much is a gorilla trekking permit?

Gorilla trekking permits cost USD 700 and USD 600 dollars in Uganda, USD 400 dollars in Congo and USD 1500 dollars per person in Rwanda. 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.

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. Gorilla trekking tours in Africa are one of the ways that we can educate the public on the importance and benefit of gorillas, as well as help in the fight against the poaching of gorillas.

Book with us a gorilla trekking tour to Uganda, Rwanda or Congo and help stop gorilla poaching.

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